Water quality

What affects water quality in your area?

Access to clean water is a critical issue in many countries. In the United States there are few places where we cannot find clean water to drink or swim in. This unit explores some of the potential problems involved in maintaining good water quality.


# Learn

Students complete the elearning course on water quality.


# Explore

Students complete research on careers related to water quality.


# Connect

Students search google maps to investigate potential sources of impacts on water quality in their neighborhood.


Teacher background

The nation’s rivers and streams are a priceless resource—they provide drinking water for a growing population, irrigation for crops, habitat for aquatic life, and countless recreational opportunities. But pollution from urban and agricultural areas continues to pose a threat to water quality. Since passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, federal, state, and local governments have invested billions of dollars to reduce pollution entering streams and rivers. Yet recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that more than half of the nation’s stream miles have ecosystems in poor condition. Knowing the current water-quality conditions of our rivers and streams and where those conditions have improved or deteriorated is critical information for resource managers and the public. (USDA, Water Quality in the Nation’s Streams and Rivers – Current Conditions and Long-Term Trends)

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Next gen science standards

Science and engineering practices

  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Crosscutting concepts

  • Cause and effect
  • Systems and system models
  • Stability and change

Disciplinary core ideas/content

  • ESS3C Human impacts on Earth systems
  • LS1D Information processing
  • LS2D Social interactions and group behavior
  • ETS2A Interdependence of science, engineering and technology