Aquatic Life Update

Hello, my name is Robert D’Agostino and I am a third year Urban and Environmental Planning Major at the University of Virginia.  For our BioGrounds project, we are studying the Aquatic Life in and around Charlottesville.  As Henry mentioned in the previous blog, the weather over the past month has restricted us in thoroughly examining and studying the aquatic areas that we chose at the beginning of the semester.  Philip Todd and I have decided to study the aquatic life of the Schuyler County Quarry.  This Quarry is an attractive spot for locals and is frequently visited during the summer months for recreational purposes.

The Alberene Soapstone Company originally owned the Schuyler County Quarry, which to this day is one of the United States largest soapstone selling companies.  Digging took place from the 1930s until 1963, when there was no more soapstone to dig for.  After shutting down, the quarries were filled with water from a natural spring in the area.  This constant flow of natural spring water keeps the water in the quarries fairly fresh.  The quarries are now used for recreational purposes; there are two quarries where people can jump from heights ranging from 10 to 80 feet.   Philip and I are interested in this body of water because we want to see if the intrusive digging that occurred over 50 years ago has had any affect on the aquatic life in this area.  We are also very interested to see these quarries have become home to any new species.

On our site visit, we plan on making several observations about the quarries and the surrounding areas to get a greater understanding of all life that inhabits this area.  We plan on observing the several different plant, tree, and animal species that inhabit this area in order to gauge the biodiversity of this region.  Since this body of water is man made, we do not expect to find large species in the actual quarry, unless some species migrated through the natural spring.  We are very interested in seeing how different plant species have grown in this region, and how these species are affected by the presence of humans during the spring and summer months.

After last meeting we have decided to not only make observations about the aquatic life and surrounding area, but we also have interest in testing the water with a green low cost water monitoring kit.  This kit would help us test for several different factors; for example, pH levels, temperature, Nitrate levels, Phosphate, and Coliform bacteria.  These samples can provide us with information about any possible pollution in these waters, and can help us explain some of the observations we make.

Post by Robert D’Agostino, Third-Year, Urban and Environmental Planning