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Farming Today and Tomorrow Scavenger Hunt for Students


Pollution Solution

Let's pretend…

You're an environmental reporter for the Associated Press. You have been asked to write an investigative article about the nitrate and phosphorus pollution in your state's rivers and lakes.

Riparian buffer along Bear Creek, in Story County, Iowa.The BIG QUESTION:

What can be done to improve the water quality of the rivers, lakes, watersheds and groundwater resources in your state?

Here are the steps to follow when writing your article:

  • Become informed about water quality issues by reading or skimming online resources related to water quality.

  • Start by reading two articles:
    A Primer on Water Quality - What is in the water?

    Other Internet Resources

    The following WWW resources will also help with your research.
  • Read with a purpose. Here are some questions to keep in mind when reading.

    • What water quality facts are most important?
    • How do the ideas of experts differ?
    • How does water quality impact your health?
    • Which government agencies provide resources and statistics about water quality?

  • Identify the main issues. List the water quality issues that have an impact on rivers and lakes in your state. What do people in your state need to know about water quality?

  • Prioritize your list by deciding which issues are the most important.

  • Key research questions. When you have finished your reading, use the research questions below to structure the content of your article.

  • Summarize the key points in an investigative article How your article will be graded.

    Submit the assignment to your teacher.

Research Questions

  1. Why do we have water quality standards and guidelines?
  2. What happens when nitrates and phosphorus enter rivers and lakes?
  3. What is occurring when lakes turn green and sometimes smelly in summer?
  4. How do pollutants pose health risks?
  5. How do pollutants affect the kinds and number of fish in rivers and lakes?
  6. How do pesticides contribute to water quality problems?
  7. What does the federal Clean Water Act require?
  8. How does water quality improvement affect recreation and tourism surrounding lakes? How does water quality affect recreation such as swimming, fishing, water skiing, boating and canoeing?
  9. What limits does the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommend to keep algae from becoming a problem?
  10. What do studies report about work to restore wetlands and find no-phosphorus fertilizer solutions for farm fields and lawns?
  11. What trends does the water quality data show in your state?
  12. What is your state doing to address water contamination and prevent pollution from a range of sources including agricultural activities, solid waste landfills, underground storage tanks, and commercial and household hazardous waste?
  13. How do practices such buffers and wetland creation and restoration improve water quality?
  14. How can citizens participate in the monitoring of streams and lakes?

Think Pollution Prevention

You have learned a lot about water quality. Now apply this knowledge by investigating the needs for action in your community. Stream banks stabilized through bioengineering.

Each person can make a difference.

What can be done?
What can you do?

As a class select a service project that addresses a water quality issue in your community.

Show others how to think pollution prevention!

Photos courtesy of the Agroecology Issue Team, Iowa State University


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