Rehoboth Elementary School fifth-grader Marilyn Rodriguez didn't want anything to do with the crayfish when she saw it sitting in a tub of pond creatures.
“I'm going to leave the crayfish alone,” she said.
But she touched it anyway while trying to capture a different pond creature Oct. 15 swimming around a sample of healthy pond specimens.
Marilyn and her fifth-grade classmates participated in the 6th annual Water Quality Day sponsored by the Save Our Lakes Alliance 3.
“We want to show you the difference between a healthy lake and an unhealthy lake,” said Nancy Cullen, a founding member of the alliance that formed six years ago to clean up the three Rehoboth Beach lakes – Silver Lake, Lake Gerar and Lake Comegys. “Six years ago, we looked at Silver Lake and it didn't look so good.”
Students learned terms like biodiversity and macroinvertabrate as they compiled their data. While examining tubs of healthy pond samples, they recorded the number of water scorpions, guppies, crayfish and other pond life found in the sample.
“Today you all are going to become junior scientists,” said Todd Frichtman, owner of EnviroTech who conducts the annual experiment.
After examining and recording data from the healthy pond sample, students took samples directly from Silver Lake for comparison.
Fifth-grade science teacher Jacquie Kisiel said her class will create charts with the data collected over the past five years to determine whether the quality of lake water has improved or declined.
She said she will send raw data collected by students to the Adopt-A-Wetland program.
State plans to dredge Silver Lake, which would have improved lake water quality were scrapped earlier this year when a sole bid for dredging work came in higher than expected. Cape Henlopen School District had earlier agreed to allow plastic tubes holding dredging spoils from the lake to be placed on Rehoboth Elementary School property.
Recently, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control determined Silver Lake is state property, and not under the city of Rehoboth Beach jurisdiction.
SOLA3's Cullen said she is optimistic water quality will improve now that Silver Lake is under state control.
“Finally that has been settled. It has taken a long time,” she said.