Whitman-Hanson Regional High School, Whitman, Massachusetts
Amanda Morrison, Elizabeth Stack, David Tabor, Zack Clark
The Whitman-Hanson Regional High School now occupies a new facility which was opened in September of 2005. The school was built as a “green school,” with numerous energy saving and environmentally beneficial features. Several new wetlands were created to deal with runoff from the grounds and building. Students in the RiverNet Club began investigating the on site wetlands which were being utilized by vernal pool animals for breeding. The observations led to questions about our environmental footprint. The runoff from the roof is collected and is used to flush the toilets. There are solar collectors on the roof. The parking lot runoff goes into a detention basin which is supposed to clean the water before returning it to the environment. While most runoff flows toward the Shumatuscacant River which runs under Route 27, the detention basin water runs into the woods first. The Shumatuscacant River is part of the Taunton River watershed.
This is the second year that Whitman-Hanson Regional High School students have investigated the on site wetlands. The detention basin was the focus of the project. The hypothesis was that the outflow water would be of better quality than the inflow since the water flows through cattails which should filter the water naturally. The research conducted was a preliminary survey. Problems encountered included water quality issues, motorcycles and quads driving through the wetlands, trash, and pollution from the parking lots. There was also erosion along the banks. Grass and clover were planted to stabilize the banks and rocks were placed to contain the erosion. Trash was picked up once per month. Water quality was tested including pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. A survey of organisms (including macroinvertebrates) living in the pond was conducted.
The macroinvertebrate survey found in the pond included high percentages of Ramshorn snails and dragonfly larvae along with lesser numbers of pond snails, damselfly larvae, Coleoptera, and Backswimmers. The outflow had a high percentage of both types of snails along with organisms to the pond. While the temperature was usually higher in the pond, the dissolved oxygen declined for both from November to December. The pH ranged from 6.3 – 7.3 in the pond and 6.7 to 7.5 in the outflow. The pH for the outflow was slightly higher than the pond. The turbidity was worse in the pond than the outflow on both dates checked.
The visual and photographic observations suggest that the outflow water is cleaner than the detention basin (pond) water. However, the results are inconclusive. More quantitative data is needed. Turbidity and dissolved oxygen data were limited. The number of amphibians using the wetlands has increased this year with over seventy egg masses recorded. The RiverNet club suggests that Whitman-Hanson Regional High is leaving a smaller footprint than the old school and many organisms are using the new wetlands so the water quality may be within acceptable ranges. Students, staff, and local officials are working to improve environmental conditions around the school.
Whitman-Hanson Regional High School, Whitman, Massachusetts (2007). Footprints. In Watershed Access Lab Projects. Project 54.
Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/wal_projects/54
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