Aqua Cares About Bugs, and You Should Too

Why would a compliance guy at Aqua America care about bugs in the IllinoisKankakee River when most people try to avoid or kill bugs?

 

Kevin M. Culver of Aqua America

First off, I am not an entomologist (aka a bug expert) so why do I care about bugs? This is the first question I ask when conducting a source water presentation or manning our source water display booth at events.

Most of the responses I receive, depending on the age of the participant, are that:

·      Bugs are bad and need to be eliminated

·      Bugs are part of the food chain necessary to sustain life in the river

Both responses are somewhat correct but not exactly why I care. We do not want bugs in our drinking water but they are an important part of the food chain.

I care about the bugs because one can determine the health of a stream by the number and type of bugs living in the stream. Not only can the bugs be used to determine water quality, but fish and fresh water mussels can also be used as biological indicators of water quality.

 

Bugs And Your Water   

So what are macro-invertebrates (macros)? These include aquatic insect such as larvae, worms, leeches and snails that can be found under rocks, attached to plants and in the bottom sediments of rivers and streams.

Not all macros that are found indicate species of water quality. In fact, only 36 different groups of macros make up the specimens used to determine water quality.

 

The 36 Groups: What You Need to Know

As a citizen scientist through the River Watch program, I have been trained on techniques on how to properly collect and identify the water quality indicator of macro-invertebrates. 

I collect bugs at four assigned sites annually within the Kankakee watershed, located in the northeastern part of Illinois. The same sites are used each year to determine water quality at that instant and to trend this result against previous sampling events.

Each of the 36 indicator species is assigned a tolerance value (TV) to pollution between “0” being completely intolerant to pollution and “11” being highly tolerant to pollution.

The weighted average tolerance value of all the bugs collected at a site is the water quality indicator, officially known as the Macro-invertebrate Biological Index (MBI).

If a bug is intolerant to pollution, it means it hasn't acclimated to pollution, which mean the river is clean. If a bug is tolerant to pollution, it means the bug has indeed been exposed to pollution - so much so that its body has changed its reaction to pollution. 

So when Aqua tells everyone that the Kankakee River is one of the “cleanest” rivers in the Midwest, it's the bugs that prove it. The water quality in Rock Creek in the Kankakee State Park is one of the few sites in Illinois that are statistically getting cleaner, according to the bug results.

This year I also collected 849 bugs from my Kankakee River site that had the lowest ever average tolerance value (MBI) at 4.29.

 

Why Should You Care About the Bugs?  

Along with just being cool, they are an integral part of our source water protection plan. You can determine water quality by which bugs are present or absent and they are a great way to educate and demonstrate to young and old about the importance of source water protection.

 

 

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The Aqua Guide to Summer Pool Safety

When it comes to pools and summer activities, it’s easy to get excited and forget about certain precautions you should be taking. Safety should always come first. Since June is National Safety Month, we’ve rounded up some pool safety tips so this summer can be safe and fun for everyone.

 

1.     Supervise children and friends

One of the best parts of the summer is being able to watch friends and family happily splash around in the pool. It’s important to keep a watchful eye on kids playing in the water. Children between the ages ofone and four are at the highest risk for drowning-related incidents.

 To prevent this, never leave kids unattended by the pool and teach them safe ways to play with water. Pool-related injuries are not just restricted to children, so watch out for your adult friends, too.

 

2.     Use a drain grate

A drain grate is a necessity in every pool and spa. You might notice one on the bottom of your private pool or in a few different places in your local public pool. The public pool you attend is required to have drain grates to ensure that the pool will not start draining while people are swimming in it. However, if something seems fishy, report it immediately. The suction from a pool or spa drain is strong enough to trap an adult, so drain grates must remain intact at all times.

 

3.     Take a CPR class

CPR is a great skill for anyone to have. If you’ve ever worked at a camp or school, you most likely took a CPR class and picked up a few basic skills. If you have private pool, you might not be able to get the help you need right away when there’s an emergency. Learning CPR allows you to aid a situation until proper medical care can be administered. You can take a class at your local Red Cross or a similar facility in order to become certified. 

 

4.     Check your chlorine levels 

You’ve probably seen the lifeguard at your local pool do a chlorine test. Chlorine is in the pool to sanitize the water. However, chlorine does not always kill germs immediately. Some germs can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to die. When germs are not killed and a person ingests the water, they might end up with a Recreational Water Illness (RWI). RWIs are caused by germs or chemicals in recreational swimming water. To avoid this, make sure the water you are swimming in is safe. If you’re unsure, avoid swallowing the water.

 

5.     Teach your child how to swim

Teaching your child how to swim can be a great bonding experience for both of you. Swimming is fun for the kids and a great form of exercise. Children who can swim are also less likely to get injured when playing in the pool. You can teach your child to swim on your own, or enlist the help of your local YMCA or swimming facility. Grab those water wings and get to it!

 Swimming can be a blast as long as you’re being safe. When you use these safety tips, you’re creating a safe environment for the people around you. Educate your loved ones on pool safety so everyone can have a fun and safe summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Have No Fear, Aqua Is Here - Hurricane Preparedness

Did someone say hurricane?Have no fear, Aqua is here. From June 1 to Nov. 30, you can expect to see the most storm activity. Don’t worry, there are many simple precautions you and your family can take to help withstand a hurricane this season. You have questions, we have the answers.

 

Will my water service be affected?

There is a chance that your water service may be temporarily interrupted. To help prepare for this possibility, we recommend saving water in advance. Empty pitchers, pots and even your bathtub (recommended that you boil before use) are excellent containers for storing your reserve water.

 

My water is back on. Is it safe to drink?

Whether or not what you experienced was a true hurricane, the storm may have caused some complications. If this is the case we will issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory. Aqua will notify you through phone, text message or email. We may also reach you through:

 

1.     Door hangers

2.     Signs

3.     Radio broadcasts

4.     Newspapers

5.     Television broadcasts

 

I received a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory. What do I do now?

To ensure your water is clean enough to drink, cook or brush your teeth with, Aqua suggests boiling before use. For guaranteed purification follow these steps:

 

1.     Bring water to a rolling boil

2.     Boil for 1-2 minutes

3.     Let it cool down

 

Now that the storm has passed and your water has been restored, Aqua will notify you when your water is OK to drink without boiling. If you have any additional questions or concerns our customer service representatives are available to take your calls – 877-987-2782.

You can also visit us at AquaAmerica.com to sign up for WaterSmart alerts on your phone and other devices.

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