Health of Renovated and Unrenovated Streams

2012 Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair

The abstract below was written by the student. The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District made no editorial changes.

Health of Renovated and Unrenovated Streams

by Ryan M. McLain, South Lakes High School


The purpose of this experiment was to determine whether the renovation of Reston streams really improved the health of the water, or just made them aesthetically more pleasing. The health of the stream water is being measured by pH. My hypothesis is that there will not be a measurable difference between the pH health in renovated versus un-renovated streams. The investigation was conducted by taking samples of water from different sections of two streams, one un-renovated, the other renovated. The samples of water were then tested for pH levels, and the data was then averaged from the renovated an un-renovated streams. One of the key procedures was finding the right streams to take samples from. This is the key because if the stream is partially renovated, or un-renovated, the data can be altered. The streams I tested, Snake Den Branch stream and Difficult Run stream, were both either fully renovated, or fully un-renovated. Therefore, the data wasn't impacted by a change upstream from the sample spots. One of the key results I found in my experiment was namely the large standard deviation in the renovated stream. This led to large error bars in the averages, making it difficult to draw a conclusion from the data set.

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