Students Learn About Water Quality at Freshkills Park


This May and June, over 100 students and teachers from Staten Island travelled to Freshkills Park to volunteer in the introductory phase of a new water monitoring program. They were studying the quality of Main Creek, a tidal waterway that runs through the park.

Under the guidance of NYC Parks Department staff, students used basic lab equipment to measure properties of the water in Main Creek, including salinity, oxygen content, and nutrient levels. These properties were chosen due to their importance to wildlife living and foraging in the waterways. They also took note of more general environmental conditions that can affect water quality, including recent weather patterns, presence of wildlife, and the level of the tide. The dissolved oxygen content of the water was consistently found to be above 5 milligrams per liter (mg/L), which is a good sign for the health of the wildlife in the creek.

The NYC Department of Sanitation conducts regular testing of the water in and around Freshkills Park to ensure that landfill closure infrastructure is properly functioning. Freshkills Park’s citizen science water monitoring program aims to collect data on a bimonthly basis, specifically to keep track of how the ecological conditions in the park are changing over time. The results will be linked to other research programs taking place in the park, including fish monitoring and a living shoreline project. NYC Parks staff have made the current data available on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water Quality Exchange (WQX), which can be found on EPA’s My WATERS Mapper. The program will continue into the fall.

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