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Common water measurements

Water temperature

Water temperature is not only important to swimmers and fisherman, but also to industries and even fish and algae. A lot of water is used for cooling purposes in power plants that generate electricity. They need cool water to start with, and they generally release warmer water back to the environment. The temperature of the released water can affect downstream habitats. Temperature also can affect the ability of water to hold oxygen as well as the ability of organisms to resist certain pollutants. The U.S. Geological Survey has been measuring water for decades. Millions of measurements and analyses have been made. Some measurements are taken almost every time water is sampled and investigated, no matter where in the U.S. the water is being studied. Even these simple measurements can sometimes reveal something important about the water and the environment around it. The results of a single measurement of a water's properties are actually less important than looking at how the properties vary over time. For example, if you take the pH of the creek behind your school and find that it is 5.5, you might say "Wow, this water is acidic!" But, a pH of 5.5 might be "normal" for that creek. It is similar to how my normal body temperature (when I'm not sick) is about 97.5 degrees, but my third-grader's normal temperature is "really normal" -- right on the 98.6 mark. As with our temperatures, if the pH of your creek begins to change, then you might suspect that something is going on somewhere that is affecting the water, and possibly, the water quality. So, often, the changes in water measurements are more important than the actual measured values. pH is only one measurement of a water body's health; there are others, too. Choose from this list to find out what they are and how they can reveal something about water.

pH pH is a measure of how acidic/basic water is. The range goes from 0 - 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs of less than 7 indicate acidity, whereas a pH of greater than 7 indicates a base. pH is really a measure of the relative amount of free hydrogen and hydroxyl ions in the water. Water that has more free hydrogen ions is acidic, whereas water that has more free hydroxyl ions is basic. Since pH can be affected by chemicals in the water, pH is an important indicator of water that is changing chemically. pH is reported in "logarithmic units," like the Richter scale, which measures earthquakes. Each number represents a 10-fold change in the acidity/basicness of the water. Water with a pH of 5 is ten times more acidic than water having a pH of six. Pollution can change a water's pH, which in turn can harm animals and plants living in the water. For instance, water coming out of an abandoned coal mine can have a pH of 2, which is very acidic and would definitely affect any fish crazy enough to try to live in it! By using the logarithm scale, this mine-drainage water would be 100,000 times more acidic than neutral water -- so stay out of abandoned mines. Water properties: pH

Importance of pH The pH of water determines the solubility (amount that can be dissolved in the water) and biological availability (amount that can be utilized by aquatic life) of chemical constituents such as nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon) and heavy metals (lead, copper, cadmium, etc.). For example, in addition to affecting how much and what form of phosphorus is most abundant in the water, pH also determines whether aquatic life can use it. In the case of heavy metals, the degree to which they are soluble determines their toxicity. Metals tend to be more toxic at lower pH because they are more soluble. (Source: A Citizen's Guide to Understanding and Monitoring Lakes and Streams) Diagram of pH As this diagram shows, pH ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs less than 7 are acidic while pHs greater than 7 are alkaline (basic). Normal rainfall has a pH of about 5.6slightly acidic due to carbon dioxide gas from the atmosphere. You can see that acid rain can be very acidic, and it can affect the environment in a negative way.

No, you don't often hear your local news broadcaster say "Folks, today's pH value of Dryville Creek is 6.3!" But pH is quite an important measurement of water. Maybe for a science project in school you took the pH of water samples in a chemistry class ... and here at the U.S. Geological Survey we take a pH measurement whenever water is studied. Not only does the pH of a stream affect organisms living in the water, a changing pH in a stream can be an indicator of increasing pollution or some other environmental factor. pH: Definition and measurement units pH is a measure of how acidic/basic water is. The range goes from 0 - 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs of less than 7 indicate acidity, whereas a pH of greater than 7 indicates a base. pH is really a measure of the relative amount of free hydrogen and hydroxyl ions in the water. Water that has more free hydrogen ions is acidic, whereas water that has more free hydroxyl ions is basic. Since pH can be affected by chemicals in the water, pH is an important indicator of water that is changing chemically. pH is reported in "logarithmic units," like the Richter scale, which measures earthquakes. Each number represents a 10-fold change in the acidity/basicness of the water. Water with a pH of five is ten times more acidic than water having a pH of six.

Measuring pH

Taking pH at home or school

One of the most popular school science projects is to take the pH of water from different sources. Chances are your school (and certainly not you) does not have an electronic pH meter lying around, but you can still get an estimate of pH by using litmus paper. Litmus paper, which can be found at pet-supply stores (to check the pH of aquariums) is simply a strip of paper that, when a sample of water is dropped onto it, turns a certain color, giving a rough estimate of pH. pH and water quality The U.S. Geological Survey analyzes hundreds of thousands of water samples every year. Many measurements are made right at the field site, and many more are made on water samples back at the lab. pH is an important water measurement, which is often measured both at the sampling site and in the lab. There are large and small models of pH meters. Portable models are available to take out in the field and larger models, such as this one, are used in the lab. To use this pH meter, the water sample is placed in the cup and the glass probe at the end of the retractable arm is placed in the water. Inside the thin glass bulb at the end of the probe there are two electrodes that measure voltage. One electrode is contained in a liquid that has a fixed acidity, or pH. The other electrode responds to the acidity of the water sample. A voltmeter in the probe measures the difference between the voltages of the two electrodes. The meter then translates the voltage difference into pH and displays it on the little screen on the main box. Before taking a pH measurement, the meter must be "calibrated." The probe is immersed in a solution that has a known pH, such as pure water with a neutral pH of 7.0. The knobs on the box are used to adjust the displayed pH value to the known pH of the solution, thus calibrating the meter. Excessively high and low pHs can be detrimental for the use of water. High pH causes a bitter taste, water pipes and water-using appliances become encrusted with depoisits, and it depresses the effectiveness of the disinfection of chlorine, thereby causing the need for additional chlorine when pH is high. Low-pH water will corrode or dissolve metals and other substances. Pollution can change a water's pH, which in turn can harm animals and plants living in the water. For instance, water coming out of an abandoned coal mine can have a pH of 2, which is very acidic and would definitely affect any fish crazy enough to try to live in it! By using the logarithm scale, this mine-drainage water would be 100,000 times more acidic than neutral water -- so stay out of abandoned mines. Variation of pH across the United States The pH of precipitation, and water bodies, vary widely across the United States. Natural and human processes determine the pH of water. The National Atmospheric Deposition Program has developed maps showing pH patterns, such as the one below showing the spatial pattern of the pH of precipitation at field sites for 2002. You should be aware that this contour map was developed using the pH measurements at the specific sampling locations; thus, the contours and isolines were created using interpolation between data points. You should not necessarily use the map to document the pH at other particular map locations, but rather, use the map as a general indicator of pH throughout the country.

The U.S. Geological Survey analyzes hundreds of thousands of water samples every year. Many measurements are made right at the field site, and many more are made on water samples back at the lab. pH is an important water measurement, which is often measured both at the sampling site and in the lab. There are large and small models of pH meters. Portable models are available to take out in the field and larger models, such as this one, are used in the lab. To use this pH meter, the water sample is placed in the cup and the glass probe at the end of the retractable arm is placed in the water. Inside the thin glass bulb at the end of the probe there are two electrodes that measure voltage. One electrode is contained in a liquid that has a fixed acidity, or pH. The other electrode responds to the acidity of the water sample. A voltmeter in the probe measures the difference between the voltages of the two electrodes. The meter then translates the voltage difference into pH and displays it on the little screen on the main box. Before taking a pH measurement, the meter must be "calibrated." The probe is immersed in a solution that has a known and stable pH (a "buffer solution"). The knobs on the box are used to adjust the displayed pH value to the known pH of the solution, thus calibrating the meter. Taking pH at home or school Water Science Pictures pH meter measures acidity Measuring pH

One of the most popular school science projects is to take the pH of water from different sources. Your school might have electronic pH meters for school projects, as these meters have come down in prices a lot. The most basic way of testing if a solution is acidic or basic is to use litmus paper, which uses a color change to give you this information. There are also paper pH test strips available that can give you a better estimate of pH of solutions. With these, the strips show a certain color to indicate certain pH values. These strips can be used to in school science classes and fairs, to test the water in an aquarium, or to test one's urine, even.

Specific conductance

Specific conductance is a measure of the ability of water to conduct an electrical current. It is highly dependent on the amount of dissolved solids (such as salt) in the water. Pure water, such as distilled water, will have a very low specific conductance, and sea water will have a high specific conductance. Rainwater often dissolves airborne gasses and airborne dust while it is in the air, and thus often has a higher specific conductance than distilled water. Specific conductance is an important water-quality measurement because it gives a good idea of the amount of dissolved material in the water. High specific conductance indicates high dissolved-solids concentration; dissolved solids can affect the suitability of water for domestic, industrial, and agricultural uses. At higher levels, drinking water may have an unpleasant taste or odor or may even cause gastrointestinal distress. Additionally, high dissolved-solids concentration can cause deterioration of plumbing fixtures and appliances. Relatively expensive water-treatment processes, such as reverse osmosis, are needed to remove excessive dissolved solids from water. Agriculture also can be adversely affected by high-specific-conductance water, as crops cannot survive if the water they use is too saline, for instance. Agriculture can also be the cause of increases in the specific conductance of local waters. When water is used for irrigation, part of the water evaporates or is consumed by plants, concentrating the original amount of dissolved solids in less water; thus, the dissolved-solids concentration and the specific conductance in the remaining water is increased. The remaining higher specific-conductance water reenters the river as irrigation-return flow. In a USGS study in Colorado, USA, specific conductance was found to vary during the year as a result of the temporal variability of streamflow. As this chart shows, specific conductance generally was lowest in the Arkansas RIver near Avondale, Colorado, in May to August, when streamflow generally was largest, and increased with decreasing streamflow in the fall, winter, and spring. Often in school, students do an experiment where they connect a battery to a light bulb and run two wires from the battery into a beaker of water. When the wires are put into a beaker of distilled water, the light will not light. But, the bulb does light up when the beaker contains salt water (saline). In the saline water, the salt has dissolved, releasing free electrons, and the water will conduct an electrical current.

Turbidity

Turbidity is the amount of particulate matter that is suspended in water. Turbidity measures the scattering effect that suspended solids have on light: the higher the intensity of scattered light, the higher the turbidity. Material that causes water to be turbid include: y y y y y y clay silt finely divided organic and inorganic matter soluble colored organic compounds plankton microscopic organisms Turbidity can be measured in the laboratory and also on-site in the river. A handheld turbidity meter (left-side picture) measures turbidity of a water sample. The meter is calibrated using standard samples from the meter manufacturer. The picture with the three glass vials shows turbidity standards of 5, 50, and 500 NTUs. Once the meter is calibrated to correctly read these standards, the turbidity of a water sample can be taken.

Turbidity makes the water cloudy or opaque. The picture to the left shows highly turbid water from a tributary (where construction was probably taking place) flowing into the less turbid water of the Chattahoochee River in Georgia. Turbidity is measured by shining a light through the water and is reported in nephelometric turbidity units (NTU). During periods of low flow (base flow), many rivers are a clear green color, and turbidities are low, usually less than 10 NTU. During a rainstorm, particles from the surrounding land are washed into the river making the water a muddy brown color, indicating water that has higher turbidity values. Also, during high flows, water velocities are faster and water volumes are higher, which can more easily stir up and suspend material from the stream bed, causing higher turbidities.

State-of-the-art turbidity meters (left-side picture) are beginning to be installed in rivers to provide an instantaneous turbidity reading. The right-side picture shows a closeup of the meter. The large tube is the turbidity sensor; it reads turbidity in the river by shining a light into the water and reading how much light is reflected back to the sensor. The smaller tube contains a conductivity sensor to measure electrical conductance of the water, which is strongly influenced by dissolved solids (the two holes) and a temperature gauge (the metal rod).

Dissolved oxygen

water. This dissolved oxygen is breathed by fish and zooplankton and is needed by them to survive. Rapidly moving water, such as in a mountain stream or large river, tends to contain a lot of dissolved oxygen, while stagnant water contains little. Bacteria in water can consume oxygen as organic matter decays. Thus, excess organic material in our lakes and rivers can cause an oxygendeficient situation to occur. Aquatic life can have a hard time in stagnant water that has a lot of rotting, organic material in it, especially in summer, when dissolved-oxygen levels are at a seasonal low.

Hardness You can't tell by looking at water that there is oxygen in it (unless you remember that chemical makeup of a water molecule is hydrogen and oxygen). But, if you look at a closed bottle of a soft drink, you don't see the carbon dioxide dissolved in that - until you shake it up and open the top. The oxygen dissolved in lakes, rivers, and oceans is crucial for the organisms and creatures living in it. As the amount of dissolved oxygen drops below normal levels in water bodies, the water quality is harmed and creatures begin to die off. Indeed, a water body can "die", a process called eutrophication. The amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in water determines its "hardness." Water hardness varies throughout the United States. If you live in an area where the water is "soft," then you may never have even heard of water hardness. But, if you live in Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, or Indiana, where the water is relatively hard, you may notice that it is difficult to get a lather up when washing your hands or clothes. And, industries in your area might have to spend money to soften their water, as hard water can damage equipment. Hard water can even shorten the life of fabrics and clothes! Does this mean that students who live in areas with hard water keep up with the latest fashions since their clothes wear out faster?

Although water molecules contain an oxygen atom, this oxygen is not what is needed by aquatic organisms living in our natural waters. A small amount of oxygen, up to about ten molecules of oxygen per million of water, is actually dissolved in

Origin of water "hardness" Carbon dioxide reacts with water to form carbonic acid (1) which at ordinary environmental pH exists mostly as bicarbonate ion (2). Microscopic marine organisms take this up as carbonate (4) to form calcite skeletons which, over millions of years, have built up extensive limestone deposits. Groundwaters, made slightly acidic by CO2 (both that absorbed from the air and from the respiration of soil bacteria) dissolve the limestone (3), thereby acquiring calcium and bicarbonate ions and becoming "hard". If the HCO3 concentration is sufficiently great, the combination of processes (2) and (4) cause s calcium carbonate ("lime scale") to precipitate out on surfaces such as the insides of pipes. (Calcium bicarbonate itself does not form a solid, but always precipitates as CaCO3.)

Every household and every factory uses water, and none of it is pure. One class of impurity that is of special interest is "hardness". This refers to the presence of dissolved ions, mainly of calcium Ca2+ and 2+ magnesium Mg which are acquired through contact with rocks and sediments in the environment. The positive electrical charges of these ions are balanced by the presence of anions (negative ions), of which bicarbonate HCO3 and carbonate CO32 are most important. These ions have their origins in limestone sediments and also from carbon dioxide which is present in all waters exposed to the atmosphere and especially in groundwaters.

These "hardness ions" cause two major kinds of problems. First, the metal cations react with soaps, causing them to form an unsightly precipitate the familiar "bathtub ring". More seriously, the calcium and magnesium carbonates tend to precipitate out as adherent solids on the surfaces of pipes and especially on the hot heat exchanger surfaces of boilers. The resulting scale buildup can impede water flow in pipes. In boilers, the deposits act as thermal insulation that impedes the flow of heat into the water; this not only reduces heating efficiency, but allows the metal to overheat, which in pressurized systems can lead to catastrophic failure. Types of water hardness Temporary hardness This refers to hardness whose effects can be removed by boiling the water in an open container. Such waters have usually percolated though limestone formations and contain bicarbonate HCO3 along with small amounts of 2 carbonate CO3 as the principal negative ions. Boiling the water promotes the reaction 2 HCO3 CO32 + CO2 Conventional water softening Most conventional water-softening devices depend on a process known as ion-exchange in which "hardness" ions trade places with sodium and chloride ions that are loosely bound to an ion-exchange resin or a zeolite (many zeolite minerals occur in nature, but specialized ones are often made artificially.)

by driving off the carbon dioxide gas. The CO32 reacts with Ca2+ or Mg2+ ions, to form insoluble calcium and magnesium carbonates which precipitate out. By tying up the metal ions in this way, the amounts available to form soap scum are greatly reduced. Permanent hardness Waters than contain other anions such as chloride or sulfate cannot be remediated by boiling, and are said to be "permanently" hard. The only practical treatment is to remove all the ions, normally by the method described below.

The illustration depicts a negatively-charged zeolite to which [positive] sodium ions are attached. Calcium or magnesium ions in the water displace sodium ions, which are released into the water. In a similar way, positively-

charged zeolites bind negatively-charged chloride ions (Cl), which get displaced by bicarbonate ions in the water. As the zeolites become converted 2+ to their Ca and HCO3 forms they gradually lose their effectiveness and must be regenerated. This is accomplished by passing a concentrated brine solution though them, causing the above reaction to be reversed. Herein lies one of the drawbacks of this process: most of the salt employed in the regeneration process gets flushed out of the system and and is usually released into the soil or drainage system something that can have damaging consequences to the environment, especially in arid regions. For this reason, many jurisdications prohibit such release, and require users to dispose of the spent brine at an approved site or to use a commercial service company. Riverside County CA water softener restrictions

one hesitate to accept it without some guarantee of performance. Suspended sediment Suspended sediment is the amount of soil moving along in a stream. It is highly dependent on the speed of the water flow, as fast-flowing water can pick up and suspend more soil than calm water. During storms, soil is washed from the stream banks into the stream. The amount that washes into a stream depends on the type of land in the river's watershed and the vegetation surrounding the river. If land is disturbed along a stream and protection measures are not taken, then excess sediment can harm the water quality of a stream. You've probably seen those short, plastic fences that builders put up on the edges of the property they are developing. These silt fences are supposed to trap sediment during a rainstorm and keep it from washing into a stream, as excess sediment can harm the creeks, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Sediment coming into a reservoir is always a concern; once it enters it cannot get out - most of it will settle to the bottom. Reservoirs can "silt in" if too much sediment enters them. The volume of the reservoir is reduced, resulting in less area for boating, fishing, and recreation, as well as reducing the power-generation capability of the power plant in the dam. Do you want to test your local water quality?

lternative" water softening methods The great economic importance of water softening has created a large and thriving industry that utilizes a number of proven methods based on well established scientific principles. It has also unfortunately attracted a variety of operators offering technologies that are purported to be better, less expensive, easier to install, or "chemical-free", but which have never been validated scientifically and whose principles of operation are largely unexplained by the known laws of chemistry. This does not mean that such schemes cannot work (after all, we can use theory to show that under idealized conditions, water can never boil and it can never rain!), but it should inspire a good degree of skepticism. Most of the statements supporting alternative water treatement methods come from those who have a commercial interest in these devices, they are not supported by credible and independently verifiable performance data, and the explanations they offer for how they work reveal such a weak understanding of basic chemistry on the part of their authors that it is difficult to have much confidence in them. Against this, there is some anecdotal evidence that certain magnetic and electromagnetic devices can be effective in preventing scale formation in hard water systems. It is very difficult to judge such claims, which are almost never based on tests that are well enough described to allow others to evaluate them and to verify the results. While the lack of "scientific" evidence does not in itself invalidate a claim for the efficacy of a device, it should make

Water test kits are available from World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD). Teachers and water-science enthusiasts: Do you want to be able to perform basic water-quality tests on local waters? WWMD offers inexpensive test kits so you can perform you own tests for temperature, pH, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen. World Water Monitoring Day is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world. Water Sampling and Testing: Measuring pH, Conductivity, Dissolved Oxygen and Turbidity Document Number: 357

Everyone in the global community is affected by the quality of our water resources. The water we drink should be free from harmful chemicals to ensure good health. The purity of ground and surface waters in our environment is vital to ensuring sustainable use. The water discharged by municipal waste water treatment plants and industrial facilities must be monitored to ensure compliance with environmental guidelines. Process waters must be kept clean from contaminants to ensure product quality and acceptable exposure levels. It is for these reasons that water samples are collected and tested for pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and turbidity. pH pH is the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. Some of the areas in which pH is monitored are public drinking water systems, industrial and municipal wastewater plants, agriculture, aquaculture, environmental monitoring, winemaking, pool and spa water analysis, food and dairy industries, boiler and cooling towers, pulp and paper mills, acid mining and the chemical manufacturing industry. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 0-6 is acidic, a pH of 7 is neutral and a pH of 8-14 is alkaline. Pure water has a neutral pH and human saliva is close to neutral, while our blood is slightly alkaline. Seawater is between 7.7 and 8.3 on the pH scale, and products like hand soap, ammonia and bleach are more alkaline in the range from 9.0 12.5. Highly alkaline baking soda is often used to raise the pH of acidic water to a more neutral level. In agriculture, pH affects the ability of plant roots to absorb nutrients. Calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium are likely to be unavailable to plants in acidic soils. Plants have difficulty absorbing copper, zinc, boron, manganese and iron in basic soils. By managing soil pH, you can create an ideal environment for plants and often discourage plant pests at the same time. Aquarists rely heavily on pH measurements for proper fish keeping. Large bodies of water such as lakes and oceans have very little pH fluctuation, making fish intolerant to pH swings. Fish keeping is a delicate pH balancing act, as fish subjected to pH swings are prone to disease and early death. Due to chemical water treatment and other factors, tap water in many large cities throughout the U.S. tends to be alkaline with a pH near 8.0. Though drinking tap water with a high (alkaline) pH is not harmful, the declining quality of tap water over the years has resulted in many people opting for faucet or pitcher filters to remove chlorine, chloramines, pesticides and other substances. These filters do not alter the pH of the water. Alternately many people choose to buy purified bottled water or fresh spring water, more likely to have a pH closer to neutral. pH test strips, pocket meters, portable meters or bench top meters are used to measure pH. Meters range from simple and inexpensive pen-like devices to complex and expensive laboratory instruments with data logging capability and computer interfaces. Inexpensive models sometimes require that temperature measurements be entered to adjust for the slight variation in pH caused by temperature fluctuations of the sample. Today most models are

equipped with Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC) where adjustments due to temperature are done internally by the meter. Meters and specialized probes are available for use in applications such as environmental, quality control and laboratories testing. How do I use a pH meter? A typical pH meter consists of a special measuring probe (a glass electrode) connected to an electronic meter that measures and displays the pH reading. The pH probe measures pH as the activity of hydrogen ions surrounding a thin-walled glass bulb at its tip. The probe produces a small voltage (about 0.06 volt per pH unit) that is measured and displayed as pH units by the meter. Before testing your samples, calibration of the instrument should be done in accordance with the manufacturers instructions daily, though modern instruments will hold their calibration for around a month. Calibration can be done at one, two or three points on the pH scale depending on the meter. A buffer solution of 7 is used for one point calibration. Meters with two or three point calibration allow you to calibrate at 7 and then calibrate with buffer solutions of 4 and 10 to insure your meter is reading accurately in that range. After calibration, the probe is rinsed in distilled, deionized water to remove any traces of the buffer solution, blotted with a clean tissue to absorb any remaining water which could dilute the sample and thus alter the reading, and then quickly immersed in the sample. The pH value is then displayed on the meter. When testing acidic solutions a pH 4.0 buffer should be used as the second calibration solution to insure accurate readings throughout the range. Likewise, when testing alkaline solutions a 10.0 buffer should be used. Between uses, the probe tip, which must be kept wet at all times, is typically kept immersed in a small volume of storage solution, which is an acidic solution of around pH 3.0. In an emergency, pH 4.0 buffer, pH 7.0 buffer or tap water can be used, but distilled or deionized water must never be used for longer-term probe storage as the relatively ionless water 'sucks' ions out of the probe through diffusion, which degrades it. Always follow the manufacturers instructions for calibration and use. Conductivity Conductivity monitors the amount of nutrients, salts or impurities in water and is measured in many fields such as the chemical industry, agriculture, public drinking water systems, aquaculture, water conditioning and treatment and environmental monitoring. Conductivity (EC) is a measure of a material's ability to conduct an electric current. It estimates the amount of total dissolved solids or salts (TDS) or the total amount of dissolved ions in water. The more salt, acid or alkali in a solution, the greater its conductivity. Pure water does not conduct electricity. In agricultural systems for instance, the conductivity of the nutrient solution needed for plant growth must be known. If it is too weak, plants will not get the vital elements they need to grow. If it is too strong, plants run the risk of

root burn, especially as evaporation occurs within the growing environment. The nutrient solution needs to be measured or monitored regularly so you know when to add more concentrated solution or when to add fresh water. A high electrical conductivity will stress plants and cause productivity losses. Concerning cooling towers and boilers, companies may be consuming more make-up water than necessary in rinsing their equipment. This contributes to extra water consumption, chemical consumption, generation of wastewater, and in the case of boilers, fuel consumption. In water rinse tanks, contamination is caused by residual surface chemicals being "dragged in" on the parts being rinsed. In HVAC equipment, water impurities occur as a result of minerals and constituents in the feedwater that remain even after pretreatment. Water in rinse tanks, boilers, and cooling tower systems accumulate these impurities over time, requiring addition of fresh water and removal of a portion of the contaminated water to maintain optimal process or system conditions. Conductivity is an easy characteristic to measure, and in these processes, is typically very indicative of the total dissolved solids (TDS) concentration of the water. With conventional meters, conductivity is obtained by applying a voltage across two probes and measuring the conductance of the solution. Solutions with a high conductivity produce a higher current. The conductivity unit of measurement commonly used is the Siemens/cm (S/cm) or microSiemens/cm (uS/cm). How do I use a conductivity meter? There are basically two types of conductivity meters - one is the small "stick" type meter and the other is the larger, more complex and more accurate bench top or portable model. Stick types can fit in your pocket and as such are quite useful. They are not as accurate as the larger models for the larger models often have a number of functions, are often combined with a pH meter and the electrode is separate and plugs into the instrument. It is very important to calibrate the instrument every time it is used otherwise it will cause inaccurate readings. Calibration means reading a solution of known conductivity and adjusting the meter to read the same. Calibrate the probe using a standard solution in the range of the samples being tested. Place the probe in a standard solution, condition, rinse probe in a second sample of standard solution, use a third sample of standard solution to calibrate, and then adjust the cell constant until the specified value is displayed. Recalibrate when ranges are changed, or if readings seem to be incorrect. To take a conductivity reading immerse the electrode/probe in the solution, move the electrode up and down a few times to remove any bubbles. Wait thirty seconds for the sample and electrode to come to the same temperature and then read the measurement. The instrument will usually do the temperature correction for you. The electrode should be immersed over the plates and reference electrode. With the stick type meter, immerse the pins to the level indicated in the instructions. It is important that the level of the liquid is not above the waterproofed section of the electrode or meter.

The conductivity of a solution is highly temperature dependent, therefore it is important to either use a temperature compensated instrument or calibrate the instrument at the same temperature as the solution that you want to measure. Electrodes can be cleaned with mild liquid detergent and/or dilute nitric acid (1% wt) by dipping or filling the cell with solution and agitating for 2 to 3 minutes. Dilute HCl (hydrochloric acid) or H2SO4 (sulfuric acid) may also be used. When stronger cleaning is needed, try concentrated HCl mixed into 50% isopropanol (rubbing alcohol). Rinse the cell several times with distilled or deionized water and recalibrate before use. Always follow the manufacturers instructions for calibration and use. Dissolved Oxygen (DO) Industrial and municipal wastewater plants, environmental monitoring, aquaculture, winemaking, pulp and paper mills and boilers and cooling towers are some of the areas where dissolved oxygen is monitored. Dissolved oxygen is oxygen gas (O2) that is dissolved in water. Oxygen gets into water by diffusion from the surrounding air, by aeration (rapid movement), and as a waste product of photosynthesis. Oxygen is a necessary element to all forms of life. Adequate dissolved oxygen is necessary for good water quality. In the natural environment, the stream system both produces and consumes oxygen. Natural stream purification processes require adequate oxygen levels in order to provide for aerobic life forms. Respiration by aquatic animals, decomposition, and various chemical reactions consumes oxygen. As dissolved oxygen levels in water drop below 5.0 mg/l, aquatic life is put under stress. Oxygen levels that remain below 1-2 mg/l for a few hours can result in large fish kills. Wastewater from sewage treatment plants often contains organic materials that are decomposed by microorganisms, which use oxygen in the process. Other sources of oxygen-consuming waste include stormwater runoff from farmland or urban streets, feedlots, and failing septic systems. Dissolved oxygen can be monitored using an electronic oxygen meter or chemical test kit and is measured in parts per million (ppm) or mg/l or percent saturation (%) which is defined as the percentage of oxygen dissolved in 1 liter of water. How do I use a Dissolved Oxygen (DO) Meter? A dissolved oxygen meter is an electronic device that converts signals from a probe that is placed in the water into units of DO in milligrams per liter. Most meters and probes also measure temperature. The probe is filled with a salt solution and has a selectively permeable membrane that allows DO to pass from the stream water into the salt solution. The DO that has diffused into the salt solution changes the electric potential of the salt solution and this change is sent by electric cable to the meter, which converts the signal to milligrams per liter on a scale that can be read. If you use a meter and probe, you must do the testing in the field; dissolved oxygen levels in a sample bottle change quickly due to the decomposition of organic material by microorganisms or

the production of oxygen by algae and other plants in the sample. This will lower your DO reading. Calibration is performed with a zero oxygen solution. Calibrating the instrument to a zero oxygen solution, referred to as zeroing the instrument, is accomplished by submersing the probe in a saturated solution of sodium sulfite. For full-scale calibration, the forced air method is recommended. This is done by placing the probe in the middle of a vortex so that the air can be forced through the membrane quickly. Air can be forced through the membrane faster in a vortex than if the probe were simply sitting out in the air. A vortex can be created using a stirrer, stir bar, beaker of distilled water, and a probe holder to keep the probe above the water. Store a DO probe with the membrane covered by distilled water. Covering the membrane with distilled water prevents the KCl fill solution from evaporating through the membrane. Always follow the manufacturers instructions for calibration and use. Turbidity Turbidity is a water quality term that refers to the cloudiness of water. It is caused by suspended materials such as clay, silt, organic matter, phytoplankton and other microscopic organisms being picked up by water as it passes through a watershed. The greater the amount of total suspended solids in water, the murkier the water appears, the higher the turbidity measurement will be. Turbidity is an important water quality indicator because contaminants such as bacteria, viruses and parasites can attach themselves to the suspended particles in turbid water. These particles then interfere with disinfection of the water by shielding contaminants from the disinfectant (e.g. chlorine). Turbidity is commonly measured in public drinking water systems, wastewater treatment systems, and environmental monitoring. Public water suppliers are required to treat their water to remove turbidity and it must be virtually eliminated for effective disinfection (usually by chlorine) to occur. In all processes in which disinfection is used, the turbidity must always be low, preferably below 1 NTU. Turbidity is also one of the main parameters monitored in wastewater. Measuring turbidity at the end of the wastewater treatment process is necessary to verify that the values are within regulatory standards. Generally, the turbidity value has to be between 0 and 50 FTU, with an accuracy of +/- 3 FTU, depending on the phase of the wastewater treatment process. Turbidity is an optical property that results when light passing through a liquid sample is scattered. A turbidity meter consists of a light source that illuminates a water sample and a photoelectric cell that measures the intensity of light scattered at a 90 angle by the particles in the sample. Turbidity will not give results for a specific pollutant but rather is a measure of how much the material suspended in water decreases the passage of light through the water. The turbidity standard unit of measure is NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Unit), the unit of measure adopted by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), or FNU (Formazine Nephelometric Unit),

the unit of measure adopted by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) (1 NTU = 1 FTU). Turbidity levels can range from less than 1 NTU to more than 1,000 NTU. At 5 NTU water is visible cloudy and at 25 NTU it is murky. How do I use a turbidity meter? The basic instructions for using a turbidity meter are calibrating the meter to a set of turbidity standards by filling a cuvette (small, glass vial) with a known standard and inserting the cuvette into the chamber of the turbidity meter. Normally a meter can be calibrated with two prepared standards. The concentrations of the standards should be chosen from the low and high ends of the range of the meter. Once calibration is complete, individual water samples can then be tested by placing a water sample into a clean cuvette, inserting it into the chamber of the turbidity meter and reading the displayed amount on the meter. When a cuvette is inserted into the meter it should be dry and wiped clean of smears of fingerprints, as anything on the cuvette could lead to an inaccurate reading of turbidity. Always follow the manufacturers instructions for calibration and use. Water Level Measurement Understanding the hydraulic gradient between surface water feature and aquifer requires measurement of the water level in these two systems. One way to do this is to install minipiezometers directly into the bed of the surface water body as this allows the opportunity for directly measuring the vertical hydraulic gradient (dh/dl) between the shallow aquifer and surface water body (Figure 1). The length of the vertical flow path (dl) is the depth from the top of the sediment bed to the uppermost opening of the minipiezometer. The head difference (dh) between the groundwater level in the minipiezometer and the surface water level can be directly measured by using: i. A manometer, where the clear plastic tube making up the minipiezometer is connected to a vertical manometer board, as is a similar plastic tube feeding into the surface water body (Lee and Cherry, 1978; Winter et al, 1988). The groundwater and surface water are drawn up into the board by using the vacuum pump, and their relative levels are manually read from the meter stick A stilling well, which is an open hollow tube connected vertically to the casing of the mini-piezometer, along the side perpendicular to stream flow (Baxter et al, 2003). The top of the tube is located below the top of the minipiezometer but above the surface water level. The base is located just above but not embedded within the sediment bed. The purpose of the stilling well is to provide a stable surface water level by reducing the effects of streamflow. The two water levels can be measured by using a chalked wire or wooden dowel, or the various water level recorders commercially available.

ii.

However, the water levels in surface water and groundwater systems are commonly measured at different locations. For example, river levels are taken at gauging stations and groundwater levels may be taken at nearby monitoring bores. Water level measurements taken at a site are usually relative to an arbitrary benchmark such as the base of a staff gauge (for stream measurements) or the top of the piezometer casing (for groundwater measurements). When measuring the head difference it is important that the measurements of water level in the surface water body and aquifer use the same reference datum, or that the height difference between the benchmarks used is known. Another complication is that corrections need to be made to the water level measurements if there is a significant density difference between the surface water and the groundwater, due to variations in water temperature and salinity. These corrections are made by converting the water level measurements to freshwater heads (hf) by: (Equation 1)

where r is the observed water density, rf is the density of fresh water, and h is the height of the water level relative to the reference datum (Lusczynski, 1961). Surface water level measurement The water level in a surface water body such as a stream is called the stage and is measured relative to an arbitary datum. The most common methods of taking stage measurements are: i. ii. a staff gauge which is a vertical graduated marker established to visually estimate the water level Automatic water level recordersthat are installed in a stilling well to minimise the effects of turbulence or wave action. Different options include a float recorder, where the vertical movements of a float on the water surface is recorded, a bubbler gauge where the pressure required to force out nitrogen gas bubbles out of a tube is correlated with water level, and pressure transducers, which measure hydrostatic pressure of the water column. Figure 1: Configuration of minipiezometer and stilling well for hydrometric measurement of seepage flux. In this example the groundwater level is lower than the surface water level and seepage flux is negative and downwards Groundwater level measurement: The traditional approach to measuring groundwater levels is to construct a piezometer or a number of piezometers in the vicinity of the surface water feature being investigated. A piezometer is a borehole designed to measure groundwater conditions at a single point within the aquifer. The groundwater potential at this point is reflected in the groundwater level within the casing of the piezometer. Different techniques can be used to measure the groundwater level within the piezometer, including: i. Plopper, where a concave metal casting attached to the graduated tape makes a plopping noise when it hits the groundwater surface.

ii.

electrical sounder, where the insulated wires for a pair of electrodes are incorporated into a graduated flat tape. A circuit is completed when the electrodes come into contact with the groundwater surface, which activates a light and/or buzzer wetted-tape, where a weighted tape that is rubbed with coloured chalk is lowered down the piezometer until it is submerged. The water level is indicated by where the chalk has been removed. bubble tube, where a length of plastic tubing marked with depth increments is lowered down the piezometer. Contact with the standing water is distinguished by blowing into the tube and listening for the sound of bubbles. Automatic water level recorders, similar to that used in surface water bodies such as pressure transducers, or capacitance probes

iii.

DO samples should represent average conditions in the stream reach being measured. A sample collected in the middle of the stream at least a few inches below the water surface is a safe bet. If the sample must be collected from the shore, be sure to pick a site where there is enough current to ensure adequate mixing dont sample from stagnant, slow-moving water if it is not representative of the stream segment. Assuming your objective is to compare measurements between stations or between seasons, DO samples should be collected at nearly the same time of day each time you sample. Otherwise, the daily variations in DO concentration that were described in Chapters Two and Three may mask changes due to other factors. The time of sampling and water temperature should be recorded. This problem with daily variations in DO (and other parameters) also comes into play if you sample more than one station. For example, if it takes a full day to accomplish the entire monitoring effort, then by default some stations will be sampled in midmorning, while others will be sampled in mid-afternoon. To retain as much consistency as possible in the data collected, always sample your stations in the same order. The Use of Field Kits for Water Quality Monitoring Many of the measurements described in this guide can be made with the use of water quality monitoring "field kits." Forget about test tubes, glass beakers, expensive electronic equipment, or a technician in a white lab coat. These kits are convenient, easy to use, and come with clear, simple directions. The measurements can be quickly made while you are still in the field. This certainly beats the alternative of taking samples into a lab and spending hours doing complex analyses. However, the difference between a kit and traditional lab techniques is like the difference between opening a can of soup and making your own from scratch. The instant version just does not meet the standards of the traditional method. Likewise, kit measurements do not meet the requirements for precision and accuracy needed for professional quality data. At the same time, kits can play an important role in monitoring programs. Their usefulness is highly dependent upon the monitoring objectives. They are a great educational tool and can provide good broadbased data for general use.

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v.

How to Measure Dissolved Oxygen


Field Sampling Considerations Dissolved oxygen concentrations may change drastically in lakes depending upon depth and distance from shore. Sampling stations and depths should be selected according to whether or not you are trying to measure these differences or not. If just one surface station is being measured, pick a station near the middle of the lake and collect the sample at arms length below the water surface. When collecting stream DO samples at several stations for comparison, it is important to select stations with similar flow conditions. Do not select one station in a slow-moving pool and another in a riffle area (unless of course one of your objectives is to measure these differences). The best sites are smoothflowing like the "glide" area between riffles and pools.

Specific instructions on how to use kits have not been included in this guide because they are provided with the kits and will vary according to the kit manufacturer. Measurement Methods There are three common methods for measuring DO. The firsts and most reliable is the Azide-Winkler titration method, against which the others are compared to test for accuracy. However, this method also requires the most training and the use of some strong chemicals. For these reasons, it is not often used in citizen monitoring programs. The second and probably most common method is the use of a DO probe and meter. DO also can be measured with field kits. For all three methods, the most important step may be the collection of the sample. Precautions must be taken to ensure the sample isnt aerated during collection and that no bubbles are trapped in the container. Both the Winkler method and kits require that samples be collected into a special type of bottle called a BOD bottle. If you are hand dipping the BOD bottle, lower the bottle about halfway into the water and let it fill slowly. If you are sampling in a stream, allow the water to overflow for a least 2 minutes or until the water in the bottle has replaced itself two or three times. Check to be sure no air bubbles are present before you lift the bottle look closely just below the neck of the bottle, where bubbles often get caught. If you see bubbles, gently tip the bottle to either side to allow bubble to escape. Carefully stopper the bottle so no air pockets form below the cap. Do this by tilting the BOD bottle slightly and slowly lowering the cap. You may want to turn the bottle upside down and watch for bubble movement. If you see bubbles, dump the sample and start over. If the sample was obtained by a sampling device of some kind, the water can not be simply poured into a BOD bottle, since this would cause aeration of the sample. Instead, the sample must be drawn off from a tube located near the bottom of the sampling device. Place the rubber tube into the bottom of the BOD bottle and fill the bottle, again allowing the bottle to overflow until the water has the bottle to overflow until the water has been replaced two or three times. While still letting sample water flow down the tube, slowly

pull the tube from the bottom of the bottle and fill the bottle to its brim. Check for bubbles. Carefully stopper the BOD bottle as described above.

Azide-Winkler Method
1. Fill a 300-mL glass stoppered BOD bottle with sample water. Remember no bubbles! 2. Immediately add 2mL of manganese sulfate to the collection bottle by inserting the calibrated pipette just below the surface of the liquid. (If the reagent is added above the sample surface, you will introduce oxygen into the sample.) Squeeze the pipette slowly so no bubbles are introduced via the pipette. 3. Add 2 mL of alkali-iodide-azide reagent in the same manner.

4. Stopper the bottle with care to be sure no air is introduced.

Mix the sample by inverting several times. Check for air bubbles; discard the sample and start over if any are seen. If oxygen is present, a brownish-orange cloud of precipitate or floc will appear. When this floc has settle to the bottom, mix the sample by turning it upside down several times and let it settle again. 5. Add 2 mL of concentrated sulfuric acid via a pipette held just above the surface of the sample. Carefully stopper and invert several times to dissolve the floc. At this point, the sample is "fixed" and can be stored for up to 8 hours if kept in a cool, dark place. As an added precaution, squirt distilled water along the stopper, and cap the bottle with aluminum foil and a rubber band during the storage period. 6. In a glass flask, titrate 201 mL of the sample with sodium thiosulfate to a pale straw color. Titrate by slowly dropping titrant solution from a calibrated pipette into the flask and continually stirring or swirling the sample water. 7. Add 2 mL of starch solution so a blue color forms. 8. Continue slowly titrating until the sample turns clear. As this experiment reaches the endpoint, it will take only one drop of the tritrant to eliminate the blue color. Be especially careful that each drop is fully mixed into the sample before adding the next. It is sometimes helpful to hold the flask up to a white sheet of paper to check for absence of the blue color. 9. The concentration of dissolved oxygen in the sample is equivalent to the number of milliliters of titrant used. Each milliliter of sodium thiosulfate added in steps 6 and 8 equals 1 mg/L dissolved oxygen. NOTE: Be very careful when doing DO analyses. The reagents are corrosive, so keep them away from your skin and clothes. Wear safety goggles and wash your hands when you are done.

Probe and Meter Method


1. Calibrate the probe according to the manufacturers suggestions. 2. Collect the water sample into any appropriate sample container, being careful to avoid aerating the sample as describe above.

3. Place the probe in the sample, allow the meter to equilibrate, and read the DO concentration directly off the scale. NOTE: The probe may need to be gently stirred to aid water movement across the membrane. Field DO probes are easily ruined through deterioration of the membrane, trapping of air bubbles under the membrane, and contamination of the sensing element. It often is difficult to assess whether or not a probe is functioning properly. Because of this, the meter must be calibrated before and after each series of measurements. When you calibrate the instrument, you compare DO concentrations measured by the probe to those measured using the Azide-Winkler method described above and then correct all samples for any measurement error. The meter manufacturers calibration procedure should be followed exactly. If the error is high or erratic, all sample results should be discarded.

QA/QC Considerations
Even though the Winkler dissolved oxygen method is the method against which the others are calibrated, there are still tests that can be made to ensure that the Winklers themselves are accurate. To test the method, you need to have samples with a known oxygen concentration so you can compare your results to what you know is the real answer. These are called calibration samples or standards. A 100 percent saturation solution can be prepared by bubbling air into distilled water. If low DOs are expected, a zero DO solution can be made by adding excess sodium sulfite and a trace of cobalt chloride to a sample. In a professional lab, a calibration standard would be analyzed with each bath of samples run. Randomly select 5 to 10 percent of the samples for duplicate laboratory analysis. If you are interested in field variability, select 5 to 10 percent of the samples for field duplication (e.g., collect two samples from the same station). If you are using a probe and meter or field kit for measurement, 5 to 10 percent of your samples should be checked against the Winkler DO method. The next section discusses how to measure pH.