Bronxville High School students, who have been conducting extensive research on the health of the Bronx River, presented an overview of their projects and findings during the Westchester County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Board of Directors meeting on May 21.
Under the direction of teacher Stephen Kovari, seniors Ben Mandanas, George McCormick, Peter McSherry, Will Murray, Henry Sheehan and Kelly Weild have been working in two groups. One group has been studying the potential links between the water quality and the numbers, species and condition of the fish they catch. The students caught several bass and sunfish in the section of the river near Scout Field, and having weighed and measured the fish, they shared their observations with the Board of Directors.
“While the number of individuals and species they captured was fairly low, the students concluded that the presence of bass, which are only moderately tolerant of pollution, indicates that the water quality may be improving,” Kovari said.
The other group has been studying the water quality and measuring the dissolved oxygen and pH levels in the Bronx River.
“Their measurements of metrics were generally in a target range, although there were localized sites where this was not the case,” Kovari said. “They also found that levels of enterococcus bacteria were alarmingly high at one site in the river, suggesting one or more potential sewage leaks into the river.”
As a result of the students’ presentation, Kovari said that board members offered their help and support in fixing the problems. According to their website, the Westchester County Soil and Water Conservation District is charged with developing and carrying out soil, water and related natural resources conservation, management and educational activities.
“This presentation reinforces the idea that we can use science to solve problems and, potentially, to make the world a better place,” Kovari said. “Science is not just a list of facts or information that students need to memorize. It is an inquiry-based process that we use to better understand the natural world around us. When we have that better understanding of the world around us, we can use it to identify and solve problems.”