A group of area teenagers are spending this week studying water. KOTV's Glenda Silvey went along for their lesson on water quality.
Most teenagers love being in the water in summertime. These students aren't playing in it, though; they're studying it, conducting experiments in water quality. They're taking part in the Summer Science Academy funded by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Dr Stuart Woods, Biology Professor says "The idea was to get kids interested in science and maybe we could keep them in education and maybe even higher education." Some 300 middle and high school students will spend three weeks in a variety of activities including nature trail building, compassing, and plant and wildlife study. Some study at Connors State College in Warner, the others here at the future site of Three Forks Harbor east of Muskogee. It's a $15-million Muskogee Port Authority recreation project that will dredge a channel from this lake to the Arkansas River. "And that way, we can have a marina, amphitheatre, a light house, restaurants, the river boats can come in, the barges won't come in, but the Delta Queen, and the old paddle boats will be able to come in."
The campers gathered samples they'll test in the lab for the presence of E-coli, sewage and heavy metals. Their findings will be added to a yearlong collection of data. They also looked for diverse animal life, an indicator of water quality. Students say it's fun, including camper Ruth Chang, "Well, I have definitely learned a lot, and I'm making all sorts of new friends."
The Muskogee Port Authority will break ground in September on the Three Forks Harbor project. It will offer area boaters the closest inland access to the Gulf of Mexico.