A few weeks ago three vans of Nicholas School students ventured to the southern Appalachians to talk about water. Luckily for me I hadn't taken 15 passenger van training yet -thank you Megan, Erin and Anna and, a special thanks to Mark Panny for organizing the trip!
First stop: Cathy's Creek - hiking around a headwater tributary of the French Broad.
As we hiked we talked about a few topics of interest. The first being a discussion on where the stream starts, and how this could be interpreted in regards to policy and regulation. Megan Fork and Erin Seybold talked about carbon cycling in the context of where comes from, how it gets to the stream and what happens in-stream once it gets there. Martin enthralled us with the first of a few readings, perhaps the first being from Walden.
2nd stop: Cathy's Creek water treatment plant. We didn't get a tour since it was Saturday (hopefully next year!), but we did go over some of the basics of drinking water treatment. This treatment plant produces about 1.5 million gallons of drinking water a day.
3rd stop: Oskar Blues Brewery - What a better use of water than to make beer!
While touring the new brewery we (Martin and Mark) estimated that the brewery was using about 120,000 gallons of water/ day to produce ~50,000 barrels ( 1 barrel =~ 2 kegs = ~ 32 gallons) of beer per year.
Day 2: Canoeing down the French Broad River
A beautiful fall day on the river was a great way to get our minds thinking about the work rivers do. The movement of water is dynamic, which influences the type and amount of sediment and nutrients that it carries . At this point in the watershed the river was a light brown, with a considerably higher sediment load (and dissolved organic carbon!) than in Cathy's creek. We looked at bed forms on the bottom of an incoming creek and added some Rhodamine, a red dye that helps visualize eddies and currents in the stream.