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Friedman Middle School, Taunton, Massachusetts


Tom Quigley


Bugwatch is a water quality study program that has been conducted at Friedman and Martin Middle Schools in Taunton since 2000. Friedman volunteered to participate in this previously federally-funded water quality study of two local tributaries that discharge into the Taunton River. These tributaries are Church Brook and the Cotley River located in the eastern portion of Taunton. We may add the Three Mile River; which is located behind Friedman, to our study program at a later date.

Bugwatch is one major educational activity conducted in our Outdoor Education Program each year. During the fall, our Outdoor Education students capture bugs in Church Brook and the Cotley River. The captured bugs are then preserved in alcohol. With instruction from Professor Curry in his Biology Laboratory, two groups of students identify the bugs during the winter months. We utilize the resource guide “Living Waters - using benthic macroinvertebrates and habit to assess a river’s health” to identify the bugs.

Bioindex is the way that all the bugs are classified. The bioindex numbers range from a low of 0 to a high of 10. The higher the bioindex number, the more tolerant the bug is to contamination. The lower the number, the less tolerant the bug is to contamination. Based on a series of calculations of 200 bugs captured at each location, a contaminant level is found for both sites. By conducting the same study at the same locations, a trend in contaminant levels over a few years can be established at these two separate locations.

Contaminant levels at both locations increased from 2001 through 2003. Cotley River experienced increases from 5.10 to 6.94, while Church Brook increased from 4.90 to 7.58 over the same two-year period. Our theories on why these increases are: (1) both channels have been partially dammed by natural debris, (2) catch basins at both locations have not been cleaned out in years, and (3) drought conditions did not allow for a natural dilution of contaminants at these two locations. An appreciable drop in contaminant levels at both locations this year are probably due to channel clearing at both locations, and a very “wet” year has promoted contamination dilution.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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