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  • Water Unit 3 Water Quality VELS 4 Created by Waterwatch, North East Catchment Management Authority March 2009 -updated June 2011 Page 1 of 39

    Unit 3: Water Quality

    Level 4 (Grades 5 & 6)

    If based on inquiry learning or Blooms

    Activity Duration Page

    Keywords & Definitions 2-3

    Create & Analyse

    1. Introducing Water Quality 1 hour 3-5

    Understand & Analyse 2. A Pollution Story Part 1: Creating a Story Part 2: Reviewing the terms

    Part 1: > 3 hours Part 2: 30 minutes

    6 -10

    Apply & Understand 3. Run of the River Board Game Part 1: 2x 1 hour Part 2: 2 hours Part 3: 1 hour

    11- 14

    Analyse & Evaluate 4. Exploring Salinity Part 1: Fresh and Salty Part 2: Salinity in NE Victoria Part 3: Salinity and Planta

    Part 1: 45 minutes Part 2: 1 hour Part 3: 2-3 hours (total over 2 weeks)


    Analyse & Evaluate 5. Testing the Waters Part 1: Getting started Part 2: Preparing for a site visit Part 3: Arriving at the site Part 4: Interpretation

    Part 1: 1-1.5 hours Part 2: 30 minutes Part 3: 1.5 hours Part 4: 45 minutes


    Analyse & Evaluate 6. The Search for Water Bugs Part 1: Bug Hunt Part 2: Getting to know your bug! Part 3: Reviewing your Bug Search Part 4: Macro-invertebrate extension activities

    Part 1: 1-1.5 hours Part 2: 30-40 minutes Part 3: 1.5 hours Part 4: > 3 hours


    VELS 33-38

    TOTAL: Approx: 25 hours

    Unit Overview This unit follows on from Unit 2: Catchments and will look at how our waterways can be affected by pollutants. It will also cover how human impacts have contributed to sediment loads, salts, nutrients and toxic chemicals in our waterways. Students will gain an insight into ways we can assess the water quality of our catchment by examining the various physical/chemical and biological characteristics of a local stream. For further information and support please contact North East Waterwatch.

    Did you know? The diversity of land uses in the North East means that waterways are increasingly in danger of becoming contaminated, particularly with nutrients and sediments that play a major role in the growth of blue-green algal blooms. One of our major roles is to promote practices to protect and improve water quality in the Region. (North East Catchment Management Authority, Annual Report. For more information go to www.necma.vic.gov.au)


  • Water Unit 3 Water Quality VELS 4 Created by Waterwatch, North East Catchment Management Authority March 2009 -updated June 2011 Page 2 of 39

    Background Water quality is highly variable, from place to place and from time to time, even within a particular river system. It is dependent on many factors, both natural and as a consequence of human activities. Rainwater is by no means pure, and when it reaches the earth its quality is further affected by the soils, rocks and vegetation over and through which it passes.

    Keywords & Definitions

    Overview: The following keywords & definitions will be explored throughout this unit. In order for students to become familiar with the terminology the keywords and their definitions can be used as words of the week. Have students write out the keywords and definitions and put them up in the classroom or write them on the board for easy reference.

    Algal Bloom: A condition which occurs when excessive nutrient levels and other physical and chemical conditions facilitate rapid growth of algae. Algal blooms may cause changes in the water colour, smell and toxicity. The decay of algal bloom may reduce dissolved oxygen levels in the water

    Aquatic: Pertaining to water; a plant or animal that lives in the water, whether it be freshwater, seawater or brackish (a combination of both)

    Catchment: The region which drains all the rainfall, other than that removed by evaporation, into a stream, which then carries the water to the sea or the lake.

    Dissolved Oxygen: Oxygen dissolved in water. Essential for plants and animals to be able to survive in the water. Low dissolved oxygen levels are harmful to aquatic species.

    Electrical Conductivity: Measure of a materials ability to conduct an electric current. Used as an indicator of salt in aquatic ecosystems as the saltier the water, the more conductive it is.

    Environmental flow: Water flow required to maintain rivers in a healthy condition.

    Estuary: A semi-enclosed coastal water body where salt from the open sea mixes with freshwater in a river.

    Floodplain: Flat area of land adjacent to a stream that is covered by flood waters periodically.

    Fish barrier: An artificial obstacle in a river that halts or delays fish migration.

    Groundwater: All subsurface water, generally occupying the pores and crevices of rock and soil.

    Habitat: An area in which a specific plant or animal naturally lives, grows and reproduces; the area that provides a plant or animal with adequate food, water, shelter and living space.

    Introduced species: Species of plants or animals living in areas where they do not naturally occur. May have been deliberately or accidentally moved to an area by humans.

    Levee Bank: A raised embankment along the edge of a river channel.

  • Water Unit 3 Water Quality VELS 4 Created by Waterwatch, North East Catchment Management Authority March 2009 -updated June 2011 Page 3 of 39

    Macro-invertebrate: An invertebrate (animal without a backbone) that is visible to the naked eye.

    Native species: Organisms (plants & animals) originally living or growing in a certain place

    Nutrients: Substances required for the growth of plants e.g. nitrogen and phosphorus

    Organic material: Any material which originated as a living organism (i.e. moss, compost, manure)

    pH: pH is a measure of how acid or alkaline the water is on a scale of 1-14 with 1 being the most acidic (e.g. battery acid) and 14 being the most alkaline (e.g. bleach)

    Phosphorus: Nutrient level in the water. Phosphorous occurs naturally in water habitats but too much can lead to uncontrolled plant growth and algal blooms

    Regulated River: River system where the flow of a river is controlled by releasing water from large dams or weirs.

    Riparian zone: The area between a river or stream and the surrounding land.

    Run-off: Water from rainfall or melting snow travelling flowing over land.

    Salinity: The concentration of ions dissolved in the water

    Sediment loads: The deposition or settling out of suspended soil particles from the water column

    Stormwater: Rainwater that runs off roofs, roads, car parks, gardens and footpaths into stormwater drains and flow into our creeks, rivers and bays

    Turbidity: Turbidity is an indicator of water clarity.

    Unregulated River: A river system where no major dams or weirs have been built on a river to assist in the supply or extraction of water

    Water table: The upper surface of the groundwater

  • Water Unit 3 Water Quality VELS 4 Created by Waterwatch, North East Catchment Management Authority March 2009 -updated June 2011 Page 4 of 39

    Activity One: Introducing Water Quality

    Overview: This activity will introduce students to the concept of water quality using De Bonos Six Thinking Hats. This

    activity is useful at the start of the unit to gauge how much your students know about the topic and

    identify learning areas that could be built on throughout the term. It is recommended that you contact

    North East Waterwatch prior to delivering this unit of work with your class so they can assist you with

    further information and background material.

    Duration 1 hour

    Equipment: Butchers paper

    Activity Sheet 1: What do you know about Water Quality (page 5)

    Waterwatch Schools Method Manual

    Clip board

    Student workbooks

    Access to the Stormwater Education Manual produced by Waterwatch Victoria & City of Greater Geelong http://www.vic.waterwatch.org.au/education-resources/196/

    Access to the internet

    Activity: 1. Introduce your students to the concept of water quality by listing the various terms from the

    glossary on page 2 on the board.

    2. Students can then use the internet, books or other resources to find out what the terms mean.

    Some great websites to help include:

    a) http://www.necma.vic.gov.au/

    b) http://www.vic.waterwatch.org.au/

    c) http://www.nrw.qld.gov.au/education/teachers/catchment

    d) http:///www.landlearn.net.au

    e) http://kids.mdbc.gov.au/


  • Water Unit 3 Water Quality VELS 4 Created by Waterwatch, North East Catchment Management Authority March 2009 -updated June 2011 Page 5 of 39

    3. Now that your students are familiar with some of the terminology you can deliver this activity

    using one of two organisational options:

    a) Divide a piece of paper in six sections and work through each of De Bonos Hats

    individually (refer below to Activity Sheet 1).

    b) Alternatively, divide the room into