Camila Cabrera Martinez ’24
Chemical and Biological Engineering
Assessing Water Quality With the StreamWatch Bacterial Action Team
I worked to monitor and assess water quality and stream health throughout central New Jersey. I processed weekly water samples from different bodies of water, tested for E. coli and general coliform bacteria, tested nutrient levels (phosphate, nitrate, and chloride) and turbidity, and took phycocyanin readings to test for harmful algal blooms. I used the results from these tests to evaluate and score the samples for each site in three five-week sessions according to The Watershed Institute’s framework for water quality assessment and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s surface water quality standards. I used these guidelines to develop formulas in Excel to convert individual numerical results into an overall score for each parameter for every site; a process that had previously been done manually. Additionally, I used ArcGIS software to create and publish a dashboard, displaying all test results on a map, and created graphs to visualize trends in the E. coli and nutrient levels throughout the summer. I gained both field and lab experience, learned a lot about the different factors that influence the health of our waterways, and became proficient in several methods of data analysis and distribution.
Water and the Environment
The Watershed Institute - Pennington, New Jersey
Jian Smith, StreamWatch Program Coordinator, The Watershed Institute; Erin Stretz, Assistant Director of Science and Stewardship, The Watershed Institute