As part of a yearlong program with Tennessee American Water, eighth graders from Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA) visited the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute to research the factors that impact water quality, from the watershed to the tap.

The students had an up-close encounter with macro-invertebrates, creatures like aquatic insects and crayfish, that were recovered from a nearby stream. Later, liquids poured over a terrain model showed them how water interacts with the landscape and impacts water sources.

The students also tested water samples from various sources, including the Tennessee River, the building’s drinking water and from the facilities used by scientists to raise Southern Appalachian Brook Trout.

Through these activities and discussions with conservation scientists, the students discovered the many ways the Conservation Institute monitors the health of our water sources. They learned how traces of improperly disposed prescription medications can linger in waterways and the many dangers posed by microplastics — plastic particulate which serve as magnets for water-born pollutants and which can work their way into all levels of the food chain.

“We are in our second year of mentorship with a dynamic group of wonderful young ladies from CGLA,” said Valoria Armstrong, Tennessee American Water President.  “We meet once a month with the goal of exposing them to various careers in the water industry.  It’s interactive, engaging and full of education about the water treatment process.  I am glad to give them this unique venue to learn about the connection between the natural water source to the finished drinking water in their homes.”