On May 5, 2017, our grade 9 classes (114 students) participated in a one-of- kind science field study. The RiverWatch Science Program transports students in large, inflatable rafts to study water quality along a section of the Bow River. The rafts are floating laboratories equipped with science kits to sample water chemistry and collect aquatic insects.

The focus of the RiverWatch trip day was to determine the environmental health of the Bow River by comparing conditions above and below the Bonnybrook Wastewater Treatment Plant. The upstream test site provides baseline data for analyzing the downstream impacts of treated wastewater or storm water. Students powered the rafts and collected all the science data. Also a tour of the wastewater treatment plant was part of the day’s events. With the continued construction and upgrades happening at this site, the students had limited access to the plant.

It was a great day and the weather cooperated. The program helped the students to focus on the personal impact that we all have on the health of Alberta’s water. The overall results of our tests was that we have a healthy water system. Many students thought this was surprising since the river is located so close to an urban centre like Calgary.