Explorer Club 360 and the chemistry of Porter Creek
This is the last in a series of articles written by Explorer Club 360 on the health of Porter Creek, a stream that flows through Westlake and Bay Village, discharging to Lake Erie at Huntington Beach. Concern regarding the creek came from a 2014 study by the Cuyahoga County Health Department that stated that E. coli from Porter Creek was responsible for closing the beach for 10-20 percent of the swimming season.
Our assignment was to research the chemistry of Porter Creek. We looked for characteristics such as pH levels, total dissolved solids, salinity, conductivity and coliform. The goal of the assignment was to see if there is a main source where the most pollutants are being discharged into the creek water. We believe our assignment is important because if our creeks are being strongly polluted it may start to affect our main water source, Lake Erie. By taking these tests we were able to see the main pollutants in the water and how they are affecting our creeks.
Starting near Bay High School we took a water sample from the part of the creek that had the strongest current. We also took samples from the creek near Westerly School and very close to where the creek empties out into the lake. To get reliable results we had Matt Oxsalida, an environmental engineer, come along with us. He showed us how to use a “Hanna Meter” which is a tool used to test common parameters.
Once we got all of our samples and data we noticed a main difference throughout the three locations. At each location the pH level was not the same. At the Bay High School location a pH of 9.5 was measured, which according to Mr. Oxsalida is above the Ohio EPA standard of 9.0. Fish in a common water environment have difficulty surviving in water above an 8.6.
Overall in our research we saw that the main problem was the high measurement of coliform showing that E. coli might be present in Porter Creek. If we can find a way to take more samples and figure out a solution to this problem the lake would be a lot healthier and Huntington Beach would be open all swimming season. Be sure to check this summer before going through creeks or even going into the lake, especially after a storm, that you don’t have any open wounds or cuts.
Learning for Life, Explorer Club 360 is chartered to Bay Sea Scouts Inc. and is a co-ed after school program for middle school youth. Club 360 in the summer can be found sailing and boating on Lake Erie. For more information contact Richard Gash, 440-871-6106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Norah Hamil, Leah Oxsalida and Erin Vanderkarr
Eighth-grade students at Bay Middle School.