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The Square’s Duck Pond Almost Drinkable

The Square’s Duck Pond Almost Drinkable

Secondary school students who tested the quality of water from locations around Palmerston North were surprised to find that The Square’s duck pond is almost clean enough to drink.

Eleven year 12 and 13 students from Freyberg High School and Ponatahi Christian School, Carterton, were participating in a two-day UCOL STAR science course, designed to give them a hands-on taste of working in a chemistry and microbiology laboratory.

Samples were taken from the Square’s duck pond, the Centennial Lagoon, the Manawatu River and a puddle, and students were asked to predict how clean each was.

The students then tested concentrations of overall bacteria, coliforms (bacteria which indicate faecal contamination) and iron levels in the water samples.

Dr Paul Demchick, UCOL National Diploma in Science Lecturer, says the results from the duck pond surprised them the most. “The water was almost clean enough to meet New Zealand drinking water standards. Not quite, but it was close”.

“The students thought that as there were lots of duck back-sides floating around in the pond, it would be quite contaminated, however there were surprisingly few coliforms.”

The puddle, which was in a car park, proved to be the most contaminated in the test results, for both coliforms and iron. While the river, which would have contained lots of farm run-off after rain, was also very high in both.

As part of the course students were also taken on a tour of the Central Environmental Laboratories and were able to see scientists in action in a laboratory situation.

Paul says UCOL’s National Diploma in Science has a strong emphasis on methods used in working laboratories.

“The facilities here are some of the best I’ve seen, and lecturers and technicians have years of experience working in scientific laboratories. So our programmes operate less like a teaching laboratory, and more like a commercial or research laboratory, and students are able to generate similar results and reports.”


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