This Page is dedicated to the memory of Carl Bakay. Carl’s work with the Sierra Club, our partner in implementing the water quality sampling program, brought him to the Teche Project as a scientific advisor. Later he would take on the responsibility of the lead with the Bayou Teche Water Sentinels sampling program. Carl raised funds to upgrade our sampling equipment, provided training workshops, and was always available to fill in where needed on sampling day. Carl was a true scientist. He understood the value of consistent data collected over time to show water quality trends. The picture above shows Carl working our Water Sentinels table at the 2013 Shake Your Trail Feather Festival. Thank you Carl from all of us, and we pledge to continue your important water quality work on the Teche.
The Table below (courtesy of Woody Martin with the Sierra Club) shows the results of over three years of citizen science water quality monitoring on Bayou Teche. We would like to express our appreciation of the volunteers (listed below) who have tirelessly gone out Saturday mornings once per quarter, taken samples, and sent in results for over three years since the first sampling day (May 1, 2010).
The Dissolved Oxygen (DO) test is a measure of the oxygen gas that is dissolved in water. It is a direct way of measuring the capacity of natural water to support fish and the organisms they feed on. Natural water holds more dissolved oxygen at lower temperatures. The testing done by our volunteers on Bayou Teche shows this relationship. Note that the results for DO shown by the green line are significantly higher in the samples taken in November and February. When the red line for temperature in degrees centigrade is low the green line for DO is high. A dissolved oxygen level of five parts per million (ppm) is desirable for supporting trout. Catfish can live with lower levels of DO. For purposes of illustration the test results for DO are multiplied x2 so we can better see the relationships between DO and temperature.
Another relationship with temperature is shown by declines in conductivity (the blue line) with colder temperatures. Conductivity is the measure of how well water conducts electricity which depends on the concentration of dissolved ions in the water. Dissolved ions in natural waters are mostly some combination of calcium, magnesium, or sodium salts. So conductivity measures the relative concentration of salts in the water. Our conductivity results are significantly higher in warm seasons. This could be a result of higher evaporation rates in warm temperatures, leaving salts behind. It could also result from summertime runoff from agricultural irrigation which may be washing salts out of soils and into natural waterways. Our results for conductivity in umhos/cm2 were divided by 10 to more easily be shown on the graph.
The pH test measures the concentration of hydrogen ions in water, assessing how acidic or basic the solution is. The pH of natural waters is a measure of the acid-base equilibrium achieved by the various dissolved compounds, salts, and gases in the water. Our sampling results for pH show relatively flat values around 6.7 to 7.2 for all of our samples through the seasons of the year. It appears that high concentrations of dissolved salts and dissolved solids in the water tend to buffer (neutralize) changes in pH. This is also substantiated by our findings of relatively high turbidity in Bayou Teche water throughout the year.
The tests that we chose to include in the Water Sentinels program for Bayou Teche provide a good picture of the chemical characteristics of the water. With adequate financial and volunteer support a more comprehensive sampling program could include sampling and testing for fecal coliform, surveys of macro invertebrate populations, and/or sampling and analysis for contamination by agricultural chemicals. (Analysis courtesy of Woody Martin, Sierra Club).
A special thanks to all of you who have committed your time and energy to the water quality sampling program: Carl Bakay, Woody Martin, Trent and Linni Haines, Charles and Sylvia Poimboeuf, Floyd Knott, Tara Levy, Glenn Hollier, Brent Miller, Trey Snyder, Lisa Mahoney, Mary Finley, Whitney Broussard, and Kristen Kordecki.
Please contact us if you are interested in water sample testing on your part of the Bayou Teche!