Disaster and Education

By Howard Cantor

Due to the recent flooding in Colorado, EPA and other agencies will be monitoring water quality for health and safety issues over the next several months. But on World Water Monitoring Day this past September, a very different group of people were monitoring the water in Denver. Students from Polaris Elementary and Noel Elementary, along with other volunteers, took water samples from the South Platte River as part of the World Water Monitoring Challenge.

I was honored to be asked to help out with this event where students learned about various aspects of water quality. Water samples were taken to test for PH, temperature and turbidity. Students helped volunteers take the samples and actual measurements of the water. They also sampled macroinvertebrates, like crawfish, snails and dragonflies, so the kids could see these organisms up close.

We work every day to protect the environment, many of us from behind our desks. It was a pleasure to be able to work first-hand with the kids and to learn how the recent floods have affected our water quality. The results of the samples will go into the World Water Monitoring Challenge Database.

From the flooding disaster, a unique educational opportunity was provided to these students: they were given the chance to see how a natural disaster affects the quality of our water first-hand. My heart goes out to all who have suffered from the floods here in Colorado. I hope these young people will use the lessons they have learned today to help protect the environment tomorrow.

About the Author: Howard Cantor is the Deputy Regional Administrator for Region 8. Howard joined EPA in 1994 as a Presidential Management Intern with the Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation.