Students Learn about Nantucket's Water Quality

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Classroom Visits Expand Students' Knowledge of Water Quality on Nantucket

By Olivia E. Jackson, Membership and Marketing Assistant

In our eighth grade Sea of Opportunities Oceanography and Maritime Studies class at Cyrus Peirce Middle School, students are currently learning about Nantucket water, including its typography and watersheds, and the impacts of the quality of water on the island's ecosystem. During this unit, Amanda "Mandy" Bardsley, Ph.d., who teaches this core class, invited Emily Molden of the Nantucket Land Council and Mark Willett, Director of the Wannacomet Water Company, to come share their research and knowledge with the students.

Emily Molden, Executive Director of the Land Council, has visited the class the last three years. She focused her talk on the impact of pollution on both the quality of water and the harbor, reiterating that there are direct and indirect sources of pollution, including pollutants that collect in water as it travels underground and into the harbor. Additionally, Emily mentioned the impact of green crabs on Nantucket’s ecosystem; they are an invasive species and have decimated the harbor’s eel grass population. She discussed potential solutions and testing that is being done to help prevent and control the eel grass destruction. She is also an advocate for the environmental interests and concerns of the island when it comes to monitoring and evaluating land development in particular.

Mark Willett, who has been with Wannacomet Water for 19 years, returned to the middle school classroom for the second year in a row to talk about Nantucket’s aquifer and the groundbreaking research the company has recently discovered with regards to the aquifer. They are continuing to do testing to learn more about what the aquifer looks like and the particularities associated with Nantucket’s aquifer. Mark also mentioned how it is a privilege for the island to have this resource and that it is part of the company’s responsibility to care for and protect it. Additionally, Wannacomet’s research has concluded that Nantucket has the third best water quality in the world, which is pretty spectacular!

After hearing these informative presentations, the students are conducting water quality tests, comparing the water in their faucets to the harbor as well as potentially expanding it to a wider study of water from other off-island sources. It will be interesting to hear about their results and how they implemented the knowledge and research they learned into their labs.

Special thank you to both Emily and Mark for taking the time to share with our students the impactful and insightful work you are doing on and for Nantucket. And thank you to all of our donors who make our Sea of Opportunities classroom possible. You are helping educate island youth, inspiring and informing the next generation, and we are truly grateful for your support.