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Water Rangers program puts scientific testing in the hands of Iqaluit locals

'By having citizens all over the world mobilized and collecting this data, we're able to get a lot of data, over a lot of space, in a short amount of time.'

Iqaluit residents water testing helping to fill in gaps in watershed information

Lerena Ashevak, intern at World Wildlife Fund in Iqaluit, checking the water temperature at the creek running through the community. (Angela Hill/CBC News)

This summer, people in Iqaluit are getting involved with helping scientists learn more about local water sources.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has teamed up with Water Rangers, an non-profit working to make it easier for citizens to record water data to learn about problems and share information.

Every Wednesday, Martha Lenio and Lerena Ashevak use Water Ranger kits in different parts of the community.

Lerena Ashevak, left, and Martha Lenio are both with the World Wildlife Fund in Iqaluit. They are using a Water Ranger test kit to test the oxygen levels in creek water running through the community. (Angela Hill/CBC)

"The kits basically enable people from all over to take part in citizen science and collect data that is missing on water sheds," said Lenio, who works as a renewable energy specialist with the WWF. She, alongside intern Ashevak, are supporting the freshwater program.

"By having citizens all over the world mobilized and collecting this data, we're able to get a lot of data, over a lot of space, in a short amount of time."

Lenio said data from the Baffin Island watershed is some that is in short supply, which is why they started encouraging people to join them on Wednesdays.

Information collected is shared on the Water Rangers website, where its free for anyone to access. There are waterways from Pond Inlet to the coast of India on the site.

Usually families and children join Lenio and Ashevak, holding up the timer required for some tests, or deciding the colour of the pH test.

"We [have had] kids who happened to be playing in the area and one of the kids enjoyed it so much she's like: 'are you coming back tomorrow?'" Lenio said.

Along with alkalinity, there are tests for temperature, oxygen levels, and conductivity. Conductivity is an indicator of having stuff in the water; a low number is good. When they tested the water at Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park, the number was 40. On Wednesday, the creek running through the centre of Iqaluit was 254.

Lerena Ashevak, intern at World Wildlife Fund in Iqaluit, preparing to test for oxygen levels in a creek running through the community. (Angela Hill/CBC News)

By testing the water they are translating local knowledge into information scientists can use, Lenio said.

Lenio and Ashevak will be doing the tests around Iqaluit every Wednesday until the end of August. They also have kits that can be borrowed.

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