Exploris Middle School students examine North Carolina’s water quality

Thursday, October 27, 2016 - 2:30pm

A conference room at the state’s environmental department turned into a classroom this week for a group of eighth graders from the Exploris charter school in Raleigh. The scope of their visit was to find out what the Department of Environmental Quality does to protect the state’s water resources.

“This is a very sharp group of kids who were interested, primarily, in how we protect the state’s water resources,” said Jay Zimmerman, director of DEQ’s water resources division. “It was clear they had studied the effects of nitrogen and phosphorus on our rivers and lakes and wanted to examine what our division does to ensure North Carolina’s ecosystems stay healthy and vibrant.” 

The students asked questions concerning the effects of humans on the nutrient load in our water systems.  Zimmerman explained that runoff from farms, golf courses, lawns and other fields, as well as treated wastewater, are sources of nutrients that can affect the balance of life in surface waters.

“It was satisfying to tell them about the many programs within DEQ that monitor, sample and test for the presence of nutrients and other pollutants in our state’s water resources to make sure it is safe for aquatic life, and for our residents to drink and enjoy the many recreational activities our state’s lakes and rivers have to offer,” Zimmerman added.

Among other topics, the students were curious about our state’s water quality in the wake of Hurricane Matthew and questioned Zimmerman about the challenges a natural emergency like this poses.

The Exploris school of Raleigh is a charter school that focuses on creating dynamic, hands-on, interconnected educational experiences for their students – not lessons simply extracted from textbooks. Zimmerman said he, as part of DEQ, was thrilled to be a part of this learning experience by offering real-life examples of how our department works to keep the water safe for North Carolina’s residents.