Friends of the Baltic environmental NGO together with Sennoy district conducted a study of Yusupov Garden’s pond, a place of mass visits of people in St.Petersburg. This event was organized on October 13, 2016, and was held in the frame of the European Local Democracy Week.
River Watch manual (a guide for public environmental monitoring of water bodies, prepared by Coalition Clean Baltic) became a methodological basis of this research. Schoolchildren and students of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region have explored small rivers and other water bodies for almost 20 years with the use of this guide.
River Watch program is aimed at the preservation of river and coastal ecosystems and wetlands in the Gulf of Finland water basin, as well as the development of regional, interregional and international cooperation to protect small rivers in the Baltic Sea Region. The research took place in the Admiralteisky district of St.Petersburg, on the territory of Sennoy district municipality, for the first time. The simplest measures were carried out to determine the state of environmental parameters of the pond.
Friends of the Baltic’s specialists demonstrated the measurement of turbidity in the pond, using Secchi disk. Friends of the Baltic’s specialist Ekaterina Uspenskaya told that turbidity is one of the most important factors in the development of aquatic ecosystems.
Species composition and health of pond inhabitants depend on the depth to which light penetrates, because plants need light for photosynthesis. The process of eutrophication (overgrowing) depends on turbidity as well.
Secchi disc can be purchased at specialized stores, but it is much more interesting to make it yourself: a rope, some weight and a white lid from a panare needed. The participants showed a lot of interest in this method; they wanted to carry out a study on their own. The results revealed that the water in Yusupov pond is quite clear.
Temperature of water is the second important factor that affects to the composition of pond’s inhabitants and can also speed up or slow down the process of overgrowing. It was measured using a conventional plastic thermometer.
Measurement of nitrates (N compounds) in water was the third step of the study. Friends of the Baltic’s specialist Anna Kazina told that excessive amounts of nitrates is dangerous for water inhabitants and for people,and she demonstrated a simple way to measure nitrates in waterbodies, using an express test.
This tool is very simple and can be used by anyone: one only needs to apply water to the strip, wait a little, and the strip changes its color according to the nitrate concentration. The color of the strip is to be compared to a color range on the scale, thus determining actual concentration of N-compounds. The acceptable nitrate content in water bodies of this type is 45 mg/l. The measurement results showed that the water in the pond is free of nitrates.
All these three factors - turbidity, water temperature and nitrate content - showed that the pond ecosystem is developing normally, and there are no external influences that could violate life and development of the pond inhabitants. Moreover, the meeting participants looked around to find litter near the pond - but found no litter around.
The meeting ended with a visit to Ecocentrum environmental exhibition where participants were able to get more information about the monitoring of water bodies, to discuss the results of investigations, as well as to learn about simple ways to reduce the negative impacts of human activities on water bodies. Among these methods – by prefering non-phosphorous and non-toxic cleaning products, proper disposal of hazardous waste, reduction of household garbage by avoiding excessive packaging and the use of plastic bags.