Students And Teacher Set Up Water Quality Testing Lab At Coronado High School - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Island News

Students And Teacher Set Up Water Quality Testing Lab At Coronado High School

by Luan Troxel | Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 3:20 pm

Six committed students from Coronado High School (CHS) have taken it upon themselves to go out to the beach weekly at 6:30 a.m. to gather water samples for testing at the newest Blue Water Task Force water quality testing lab they have set up under the guidance of science teacher, Karoly Tippets. Most of the students come from Tippets’ AP Environmental Science class, but any student interested in the science of water testing can join.

The Blue Water Task Force is a program of the Surfrider Foundation. According to Surfrider, it is a “volunteer-run monitoring, education and advocacy program.” The program is meant to “alert citizens and officials in their communities about water quality problems and to work toward solutions.”

Tippets said that she became aware that the San Diego Surfrider chapter was looking for places that might sponsor citizen labs for water quality testing when she received an email from then Principal, Jenny Moore. Tippets said she was excited to take on the task with some of her students. Her inspiration came from her own experience as a high school student at La Jolla High School doing water quality testing in AP Chemistry for the same program. She said that she was further compelled to study the issue of water quality because of her experience as a lifeguard seeing both red tide and trash floating in the water.

Two of the students involved with the lab are William Steinely and Sydney Zoehrer. When asked why they would want to be on the beach, knee-deep in water taking samples at 6:30 a.m. for an extra-curricular activity, both pointed to their love of surfing and of the ocean. Steinley added, “I like being out early in the morning on the beach. And, I like doing something that has substance.”

For now, Tippets is working with them in the lab. She is going through step by step instructions on how to prep the sample prior to putting it into the incubator. The first week, the sample read didn’t work out. The second week (which this was), Tippets is reviewing each step on the list to make sure the process goes right. After 24 hours in the incubator, the plan is to look through an ultraviolet viewer to see if the samples are “fluorescing,” indicating the presence of pathogens. After a month or so, Tippets expects that there will be no more errors and that the students will be able to handle the sampling, prepping and reading by themselves.

Liam Casey, another of the water testers, said that he was an avid surfer and, through surfing, “fell in love with the ocean.” He said that he has been on many surfing trips in central America and thought that “if we could bring this [method of water testing] to them, it would be super helpful.”

When asked why the students wanted to go to the trouble of doing testing when the county currently tests, they all noted that there are issues of timeliness and location of testing. But, Zoehrer also added: “It’s important to take responsibility for educating our citizens even if the source of the contamination isn’t our own country … we need the information before we go into the water and we need it even for tourists who go in.”

Other students who are involved with the lab are Cole Quinlan, Jenna Roulan, and Summer Vu.

Tippets said that Surfrider provided the equipment and also supplies for the initial year. If the lab is to continue, however, Tippets said she and the students will need to do some fundraising.

While the ultimate goal of the program is to provide better data on the water quality from Avenida Del Sol to the citizens of Coronado, Tippets said she hopes the students will “garner an appreciation of all the small influences that impact our environment.”

Those interested in viewing the data can do so at Surfrider.org. There one can view location and date of testing and levels of bacteria found in the water.