Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Sophie's Awesome Waterway Report.

By Sophie Watt!
(Or dance of the swimming caddisfly)
Part 1: Intro
Part 2: Waterway Connections
Part 3: Habitat
Part 4: Healthy waterways
Part 5: Ecosystem
Part 6: Macroinvertebrates
Part 7: Testing our waterways
Part 8: River finding
Part 9: suggested changes
Part 10: Why are these changes important?
Part 11: Keeping a waterway healthy
Part 12: The last part

Christchurch has many different waterways. Some are natural and some are man made. Natural waterways are waterways that have been here for the whole history of clocks, and before. Man made waterways are those that men made. An example of a natural waterway is the Otakaro (Avon) river. Natural waterways are: rivers, streams, estuaries, creeks, and lakes. Now for the man made stuff: stormwater systems, pipes, drains,water races and others.

When the rain falls from the sky it falls either on the grass or the concrete. If the rain falls on concrete, the water runs off the concrete and into the drains or stormwater systems and the drains go out into our Christchurch rivers and streams. But if rain falls on grass then the soil filters the rain into the aquifers. Then the aquifers travel to sea. But if on the way, the aquifers have too much water, they naturally spring out of the ground, we call these 'springs'. Eventually (which is about one hundred years later!) the water from the aquifers gets into our taps and showers and baths. The reason we always have water in our taps is because the aquifers are constantly flowing.

A habitat is a place where animals and plants live.  A home for animals or invertebrates that usually provides food and shelter and is cosy, just like our homes. That's ideal for an animal's habitat. A habitat for macroinvertebrates would be a healthy river stream or any other healthy waterway. An ideal habitat for a mayfly would be a lake with a thin film of algae and no sediment, has native trees near and has NOT been pooped in. But if one animal of the ecosystem dies then all the other animals that rely on them would die too, and then all the animals could eventually die.

All of the animals in the world rely on at least one other thing in the habitat. We call this the 'ecosystem'. The pukeko lives on vegetation by the water's edge because apparently it's tasty. But if you take away a few trees from the pukeko's habitat would be like stealing food from your house. The back-swimmers rely on the water boatman, because back swimmers eat water boatman. Noooooo I love water boatman. They are so cute! Eels rely on crayfish because they eat them. Yuck. So if you took away 3 groups of crayfish that live near the eels habitat, the eels surely would not be able to survive. If we kill the crayfish, that would have a big effect on the food chain because the crayfish are to do with lots of other animals supplies of food. If you don't care much about animals though, then here's the effect you do on the food chain: All the fish go away and we can't eat them. So look after macroinvertebrates and everything else in our waterways!

The animals that you find in a habitat will tell you how healthy the waterway is. If you look at the macro invertebrates and you ONLY  find slugs, worms and flatworms and can't find mayfly or caddisfly, that means that the waterway is a bit unhealthy. The reason the mayfly and caddisfly and others can't live in an unhealthy waterway is because they die because everything in their habitat is yucky. But if you find a variety of macroinvertebrates, mainly mayflies, stoneflies and other fussy creatures that means the waterway is healthy. If you find dobsonflies, boatmen and backswimmers that means the waterway is moderately healthy.

Another way to find out if a waterway is healthy or not, is to check the water temperature. If the water temperature is warm and above 15 degrees it's unhealthy. But if the water temperature is cold and below 15 degrees it's healthy. The reason this makes an effect on a waterway because if it's warm the waterway has less oxygen. But if it's cold then it has more oxygen which means the macro invertebrates can live!

The amount of algae (green slime) in a waterway can make a big effect on how healthy it is. If there are thick, spongy, slimy pieces of algae that means that the waterway is unhealthy. But if you find a thin layer of algae, that's fine. That means the waterway is healthy.

Another effective way of telling if a waterway is healthy is checking the erosion. If the stream bank is leaning over and is not stable that means the waterway is unhealthy. But if the stream bank is stable that means the waterway is more healthy! The more muddy and dirty a waterway is the more unhealthy it is.

If there is a variety of stream flow that means the waterway is healthy. If the stream flows at just one depth, that means the waterway is probably less healthy.

The types of plants surrounding the stream make a difference too, because the vegetation surrounding the stream act as protection reducing the effects of flooding, erosion and pollutants from runoff. The waterway will be healthy if there are native trees and shrubs also, with some grasses at the waters edge. The waterway will be unhealthy if the only types of plants surrounding it is pasture grass or bare ground.

A healthy waterway will make a good habitat for water animals because there will be good ecosystem for them. Lots of plants and animals in  their ecosystem will be living there because it's such a healthy waterway!

Our class visited many different waterways in Christchurch. We did this because we wanted to measure the health of their ecosystems. We did this by using the “In-Stream And Riparian Habitat Survey” chart. Then we caught invertebrates using a technical retrieval device (a sieve on a stick). Then we classified them into different boxes (by using a miniature retrieval device, a spoon) and checked which invertebrates we have caught by using the invertebrates survey. At the end we used a turbidity tube and our eyes to evaluate the turbidity.

The stormwater drain behind Waimairi school is not at all as healthy as it could be. The waterway does not have any variety of stream flow AT ALL! This is important because animals can die because their preferred depth of stream flow may not be there.
Also there are not many trees to hold the waterway together and provide shade. All you can see is pasture grass and bare ground. This is important because there is not much shade for invertebrates and invertebrates like cool water, or else they die. Also this is important because the waterway will not attract birds.
Another bad thing about it that there is also lots of sediment and mud on the stream bed. The reason this is bad is because that can cause pollution, and then the water turns mucky, AND fussy invertebrates (like the mayfly and caddisfly) can die.

The buffer of vegetation does not go far either. This is bad because some animals food is vegetation. Another bad thing is that when there is water in this stormwater drain, the water is very turbid (murky). It is extremely important that a waterway is not murky because then all the fussy creatures can die and the non fussy ones wouldn't have any fussy ones to eat and that would affect the whole ecosystem.

Unfortunately we did not find ANY macro invertebrates because they do not like places with litter and no water. This is really unfortunate because if all of these waterways happen to turn into something like this, then the invertebrates will have nowhere to live and... die.

I think my scores were sort of reliable because there were some people that had the same score as me. But there were some people with completely different ones than me.
Overall I think this waterway is in poor health.

Although there are part of the waterway ecosystem that are unhealthy, there are many changes we can make to improve its health. These include:
  • Planting native trees around the waterway to: Attract birds, create shade and hold the banks together.
  • Dig sediment out of the waterway and replace with stones. This is important because macroinvertebrates can die just from sediment!

These changes are important because:
  • We want to be able to swim and kayak in our waterways.
  • The land was cared for by our ancestors. So if we don't look after it and pollute it, then we are disrespecting our ancestors
  • Kaitiakitanga. That is the main cultural value of Maori people. They want to continue gathering food from nature in a sustainable way, so we need to guard and care for our waterways.

If  a waterway is unhealthy these are the effects it can make:
1. The insects (macro invertebrates) in the water can die because the water is dirty.
2. If one waterway is polluted  it can affect other waterways and those other waterways can affect the sea.
Do you ask why this is important? Well, then we end up drinking it. This is what you can do to stop pollution: DON'T WASH YOUR CAR! (I don't know why people even want cars) If you do, the soapy water runs off the concrete and into the drains and the drains go into the waterways OR runs straight into a waterway. But if you really, really want to wash your car then these are my tips: Go to the car wash, or to save money wash your car on a grassy surface because the soil filters all the water.
Also when your dogs do number 1s and 2s, that can end up in waterways too. Do you ask why this is important? Well, the animals end up drinking the water and so do we (although ours is sort of cleaned)! But if us humans find the water so dirty that we can't freshen the water then we end up drinking the same stuff as the animals in forest. So CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOGS! (I don't know why dogs don't know how to clean up after themselves).

Thank you for reading my ridiculous, scientific waterway report. I'm so sorry it wasn't funny. But I showed my friend the funny parts she said "it wasn't scientific enough". I'm so sorry. I think I should change the title to something funny like dance of the swimming caddisfly. Don't you agree? Yes I think you do.
Anyway, I think I'm asleep now, although it's so fun writing this. But the most fun part was when my friend and I finished our paragraphs that we were supposed to work on, we start chatting! 'This is very unlike me' according to the teacher, but I do it every day. Wait... but why am I writing this report? You probably found this SO boring that you fell asleep. You are slumped over this document, snoring your head off.
By the way, here is something to think about: I am against sugar and unhealthy stuff. So this is why you could start taking up not eating unhealthy stuff: 1. You can get heart disease. 2. Sugary stuff usually comes in packets, one obvious way to litter. See a future blog post to hear more about this.

But before I go, I will give you this important tip to handle life:

Look after our waterways!

Yours sincerely, the author,
Sophie Watt

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