Randolph-Macon partners to better water quality

Posted on Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Students earning degrees in environmental science can now get hands-on experience with a federal agency as part of their studies.

Aaron Bartlett collects data as part of  a new program through Randolph-Macon College targeting water quality in the James River watershed.

Aaron Bartlett collects data as part of a new program through Randolph-Macon College targeting water quality in the James River watershed.

Aaron Bartlett, a junior at Randolph-Macon College, is the first person to be a part of a new program at the college, funded by a four-year grant. The program teams up with the United States Geological Survey and Washington and Lee and Virginia Commonwealth universities to test and assess the water quality in the James River. Professor Charles Gowan, who will work with numerous students and faculty, directs the program.

One main goal of the program, Gowan said is that they are focusing on improving the quality of the James River.

Data will be collected from a few additional waterways to add to the already 24 locations where the water is tested around the James River watershed. Samples are collected from those spots roughly 12 to 20 times a year and scientists look at how much pollution goes from the river into the Chesapeake Bay, Gowan said.

“This adds another site,” he added, noting that the additional locations should help make the data more accurate.

But there’s another important focus.

“Educating the next generation of environmental professionals,” Gowan said.

Read the full story in the Aug. 7 edition of the Herald-Progress. Call 798-9031 to subscribe today.

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