As of last week, we have completed our water quality sampling for the summer. For the past two months, we visited Coney Island Creek weekly to record water quality measurements and collect samples. It rained during two of our six sampling days, which enables us to compare wet and dry weather conditions. This comparison will be crucial as we use our results to begin to understand and describe how this system functions. From the measurements of dissolved oxygen and pH we took, we could see patterns emerging which indicated a decrease in water quality conditions when nearby sewage pipes were running. In particular, we observed declines in dissolved oxygen content following rain events. Our next steps will be to analyze the samples we collected and formulate our results. Since we were only able to record wet weather conditions on two days, we will also continue to sample during the Fall semester to add to our data set.
Coney Island Creek Site 5. Discharge from pipes following a rain event.
One of the challenges we experienced with this project was the weather and the complexity of the creek. Our sampling was weather dependent because it required capturing the conditions of the creek during wet and dry days. Closely following the tidal cycle and weather forecasts for the purposes of this project made me feel like a storm chaser, which was exciting. The weather was unpredictable at times, which made it more difficult to collect the samples we needed. There were several days we went into the field expecting the water to be flowing in one direction based on the tidal cycle, only to observe it moving in a different direction. This discrepancy was strange and made us consider the possibility that storm pipes were running in the area even in dry weather.
From this project, I have learned the protocols for water quality sampling. Throughout this summer, many community members stopped us in the field to ask questions about our research and voice their own opinions. Not only did I learn more about the mechanics of water quality sampling, but I also gained some insight into how the local community feels about the polluted status of Coney Island Creek. As researchers, we were also able to educate some members of the community about their local waterbody, which was a major success. Overall, this project has continued to solidify my interest in studying water quality conditions in New York City. In the future, I intend to explore the social science aspects of this project and engage with the community more to hear their thoughts on the state of Coney Island Creek.