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A cache by Iowa Tom Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 11/10/2007
1.5 out of 5
2 out of 5

Size: Size: other (other)

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Geocache Description:

This is a geocache that is at the site where my biology class is monitoring Prescotts Creek for IOWATER. Feel free to "disturb" the container.

IOWATER is a volunteer water quality monitoring program that’s associated with people interested in learning about their environment and helping to make a difference. To begin to get involved a person must take an inexpensive one day training course. Here’s a schedule for the most recent ones. With that course comes a gamut of materials for testing water for chloride, phosphate, nitrite, nitrate, pH, dissolved oxygen, water temperature and water clarity. You get a manual and equipment for catching and identifying benthic macroinvertebrates (creatures w/o backbones that live near or on the bottom and are big enough see with your naked eyes, like the damselfly nymph that I photographed and show in the image above. Click on that picture to see a dragonfly nymph we caught. They are jet propelled in that to rush off they shoot water out their rear end. ) The velocity and physical nature of the stream at the point that you make your readings is another parameter that’s measured. If you want to work with lake water you get stuff for determining water clarity and color. For that you need a boat however.

Most of the chemical testing equipment is shown here. Click on the image to zoom in. Any adult can participate. It’s not hard to learn at all, especially once you do it once on your own. It has proven to be a wonderful add-on to my biology and chemistry classes! For example, it makes teaching about polyatomic ions come to life in chemistry class. The kids may still not fully understand the difference between nitrites and nitrates but they will surely remember measuring for them!

Now here’s a chance to do IOWATER testing yourself!! Enclosed in the cache you will find a baggie that contains two Aquachek bottles and a chart. The directions are on each container. To get a pH (acid/base) reading, momentarily dip the pH test strip into the water - wait for 15 seconds. Compare the strip with the colored pH scale printed on the bottle. Estimate to the nearest whole value. Record your data on the chart in the cache and if you mention it in your online log I'll put what data you could get in the table below. You can do this every time you stop by if you like! Before looking for nitrites and nitrates take a look at this picture. You will want to estimate both to the nearest value printed on the bottle. To do this test, dip the strip into the stream for 1 second. Wait 30 seconds then quickly compare the nitrite with its colored scale. Remember that reading then after 60 seconds compare the nitrate color with its scale. See how easy it is? You have just played a valuable role in watching this stream for water quality!

Chemical Data - Prescotts Creek
Date Geocacher pH Dissolved O2 (mg/L) Nitrite (mg/L) Nitrate (mg/L) Phosphate (mg/L) Chloride (mg/L) Water Temp °F
11/21/07 Iowa Tom 7 10 0.15 2 0.1 <25 38
11/30/07 Iowa Tom 6 10 0.0 2 0.0 <25 36
5/15/07 Iowa Tom 7 8 0.0 5 0.0 <25 43
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____

In keeping with the IOWATER theme I created a travel bug, also named IOWATER. It’s interactive and its components are in a PVC pipe that’s just short enough to fit into any ammo box. The person that picks it up is encouraged to test a natural source of water for pH, nitrite and nitrate values. Two bottles inside the PVC pipe contain the tests strips. Simple instructions are on each bottle. Once the person gets the chemical data they are asked to submit it along with a coordinate for the water in their log. I will list the data in the following TB table. Thanks!

Chemical Data – for the IOWATER TB
Date Geocacher coordinate pH Nitrite (mg/L) Nitrate (mg/L)
1/3/08 RLowtek 42 00.757, -091 39.911 7 0.15 1
______ ______ ______ ______ ______ ______

My biology students thoroughly enjoy the benthic macroinvertebrate treasures that await their nets. The invertebrates are indicators of water quality. For instance at Prescotts creek we discovered caddisfly larvae. They only survive in non-polluted water. We actually didn’t notice them in the field. When a student spotted what he said were two sticks that were alive, I knew we had caught some, and that was back in class. That student was in physical science class too, not in biology. Hence it pays to leave things out where many eyes can study them. The nymphs of the caddisfly sometimes make their home in a piece of hollow plant stem and drag it around. I was overjoyed to have one! Now I can say that the creek which I seined minnows in beginning more than 40 years ago is good! The chemical tests indicated that as well.

The cache place is accessible from HWY 63. Unless the ground is slick, pull completely off the highway onto the farm field access drive near the beginning of the bridge guard rail. It's on the west side of the road and comes up fast; its right after the point where the road narrows into two lanes so watch for cars behind you, signal plenty ahead of time and get completely on the shoulder early. Also be careful when backing back out onto the shoulder. There's no need to cross the bike trail with your vehicle. When walking watch for two downed fences in the grass! The owner of the land told me that it’s OK to drive onto that access road.


Now the manual that you get with the class is pretty intimidating in that it contains a lot of information. However you don’t need to be an expert in all that material to do a good job of helping out. So don’t let that scare you off!

Here is an example of the Benthic organism key and a sample of the chemical assessment datasheet that I fill out. I enter the data online.

An online version of the IOWATER Level I program manual begins here. Following are the locations of pdfs of each of the chapters. Chapter 1, Welcome and Introduction. Chapter 2, Water Quality in Iowa. Chapter 3, Getting Started. Chapter 4, Watershed Mapping, Chapter 5 Habitat Assessment. Chapter 6, chemical Assessment. Chapter 7, Biological Assessment. Chapter 8, Physical Assessment. Chapter 9, Defining Your Stream. Chapter 10, Standing Water Assessment. Chapter 11, Data Submission. Chapter 12, Data Interpretation. Chapter 13, IOWATER Field Report Forms. Chapter 14, Glossary and References. Chapter 15, Appendices. And finally, Benthic Macroinvertebrate Indexing.

Here’s a map showing some of the sites that are being monitored by volunteers around the state. To find out what water is being monitored in your area go to the Iowa DNR Interactive Mapping page and click on Water Monitoring Atlas.

More links that I want to keep track of are as follows: View IOWATER Data On-line [for this site look for "Monitor: Tom Wagner"], Submit Data On-line, Register a New Monitoring Site, IOWATER Newsletter and NOAA Weather Data for Waterloo.

There is some more great info at this out of state website too.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Vg'f BX gb "qvfgheo" gur obk.

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



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Current Time:
Last Updated: on 11/15/2017 3:33:47 PM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (11:33 PM GMT)
Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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