Water that looks unhealthy probably is unhealthy. On the other hand, water that looks clear or fast-flowing might not really be healthy for people, fish, and other uses. Scientists and community groups use several methods to determine river, stream, or lake health.
Tools For Finding the Health of Rivers, Streams, and Lakes
– Survey the animals in and around the water (called “biological indicators”). This provides the most reliable information on water health.
– Other animals are also sometimes surveyed in state-funded programs.
– Test the water. Do direct chemical and physical tests of the water, for such factors as bacterial contamination, temperature, flow, and acidity. Special tests can measure the amount of toxic chemicals in the water.
– Look around. Visually survey the habitat, the area in and around the water.
There are many factors that scientists look at to determine the overall heath of a lake. Scientists often look at the watershed that the lake is in to determine what kind of chemicals, if any, could be washed into the lake. Water runoff can contain chemicals from agriculture, industry, vehicles, septic tanks, and many other sources. Some other factors that scientists examine when determining the health of a lake include; oxygen content, abundance of species, health of species, water quality, algae content, and sediment quality.
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