Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Rivers to Reefs 2012
Mission Information
 

Tuesday: July 17, 2012
Log Day 2

Joseph Denato; Centennial High School, Roswell, GA
Stephanie Miles; Villa Rica High School, Villa Rica, GA
Melissa Niemi; Arnold Magnet Academy, Columbus, GA

Joseph Denato

Tara Muenz of Adopt-A-Stream explains how to properly collect a water sample

Tara Muenz of Adopt-A-Stream explains how to properly collect a water sample.
(Photo: Cathy Sakas)

Today's adventure had us collecting water samples and reading air temperatures at Shoal Creek in a little county park in Dekalb County just outside Atlanta. Shoal Creek is a very small stream that is considered a headwater of the Altamaha River Watershed. Kim and Cathy are providing us with great information on the Georgia watersheds. Then we traveled to High Falls State Park to meet Tara Muenz who walked us through the Adopt-A-Stream chemical water testing protocol and by the day's end we became certified to adopt a stream of our own. When we do adopt our own stream or pond or lake we will be able to contribute our data to the statewide data base.

Melissa Niemi, Chandra Westafer, Jeff Eller and Shannon Sanders collect their first water samples in Shoal Creek, headwaters of the Altamaha River Watershed

Melissa Niemi, Chandra Westafer, Jeff Eller and Shannon Sanders collect their first water samples in Shoal Creek, headwaters of the Altamaha River Watershed.
(Photo: Cathy Sakas)

Just about the time we were winding up with Tara's overview very large dark clouds began rolling in so our group quickly trekked down to the banks of the Towalagia River to just below the dam where the old hydroelectric plant is located. There we were going to practice chemical testing, however the thunderstorm barreled in and forced us to take refuge very quickly in the bus that our driver Mike Heath had nicely driven down to the river's edge just in case we needed it and man, did we ever need it! Due to the thunderstorm we finished our chemical water tests in the bus and then we headed for Forsyth where we had a delicious dinner at a local pizzeria. It is past 10PM now and we are just finishing up testing our Shoal Creek water sample in the lobby of a Holiday Inn Express where we are staying tonight. Tomorrow we should be much faster at doing these tests.

Melissa Niemi, Joseph Denato, Stephanie Miles, and Jacqui Toner prepare their team's property diagram

Melissa Niemi, Joseph Denato, Stephanie Miles, and Jacqui Toner prepare their team's property diagram.
(Photo: Cathy Sakas)

Stephanie Miles

Our first stop of the day was Shoal Creek where we discussed several water issues. We talked about how watersheds are formed and the different watersheds in Georgia. Depending on how strong the wind is blowing, I live either in the Coosa or the Tallapoosa watershed! We talked some about the water wars between Georgia and the other states and the impact we have on our downstream neighbors. It was interesting to learn that the Georgia coastline has changed so dramatically in the last 2 million years.

Chandra Westafer explains the development attributes of her property along a river

Chandra Westafer explains the development attributes of her property along a river.
(Photo: Cathy Sakas)

We participated in role-playing activities about a community's impact on its water. My property was at the "tail-end water" of our river where everybody's pollution ended up, and my poor horses never stood a chance! Next we collected water from Shoal Creek and a small tributary. The water was about ten degrees cooler than the air, and smelled rather swampy. We saw pollution of tires, hub caps, plus lots of other trash. All in all, the water was dirtier than I thought it would be. As is typical for urban streams, the sides of the stream were very steep, making it rather interesting to get in and out.

We are off to a great start here. We will test our water later for phosphates and other dissolved stuff. It's been nice getting to know everyone so far and I'm looking forward to rest of the activities.

Melissa Niemi

Today was the first day of our REAL work. It started out as an early morning for teachers who are on summer vacation. Our first stop was at Shoal Creek. It was a beautiful park not far from the metro area of Atlanta. After a little instruction from our wonderful guides, we headed down to the creek. Our first task was to learn how to take temperature readings, who knew there were directions on taking temperatures! A few of us then climbed down the steep muddy bank to collect a water sample. While working in the water, there were several notable things, most especially was the trash. Apparently someone wasn't a fan of country music, because their CD ended up in the water. I was lucky enough to make a friend too. A tiny little fish swam by my feet. I was not expecting anything to live in such a tiny trickle of water. Next we were on the bus headed to High Falls State Park.

Sharon Butler, Betty Bates and Stephanie Miles test Shoal Creek water in hotel lobby

Sharon Butler, Betty Bates and Stephanie Miles test Shoal Creek water in hotel lobby.
(Photo: Rob Herrin)

High Falls State Park is a beautiful park with lots of history, as told by Dan the intern from Gordon College. Towaliga River means "roasted scalp". That's one of the more quirky facts I learned today. Our group got to see the remnants of the old power mill from the early part of the 1900s that powered several mills in Griffin but now stands in ruins, shut down back in the 1950s. We were SUPPOSED to do a water quality test at the park, but it is monsoon season in Georgia, and so we had to cancel that. Instead we had a demonstration of one by Tara the Adopt-A-Stream staff who braved the storm to make sure we knew what we needed to know so we could continue with our testing later today.

Holiday Inn Express Hotel Lobby: Forsyth, GA. What is supposed to be a breakfast dining area was turned into makeshift laboratory with a bunch of science (and one art) teachers doing water quality testing. I would really like to know what people thought when they passed through and saw all the chemicals and processes we were doing. It's been very exciting so far. Can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store!


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