Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

Lycoming’s Clean Water Institute provides educational workshop, water testing aboard the Hiawatha

Lycoming’s Clean Water Institute provides educational workshop, water testing aboard the Hiawatha

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Lycoming College’s Clean Water Institute (CWI) took part in the Middle Susquehanna River Keeper’s floating classroom program aboard the Hiawatha Paddlewheel Riverboat in Williamsport on July 10. The CWI presented a workshop focused on water quality of the West Branch Susquehanna River and requested that community participants bring a water sample from their local stream or creek for testing.

The floating classroom consisted of four stations where CWI student interns tested participants’ water samples for pH, conductivity, clarity, nitrate, and phosphorous. An interactive mapping application from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was accessible for community members to search for and learn more about streams and creeks within their hometowns. The mapping application exhibited information corresponding to the 2016 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report, such as stream names, impairment sources and causes, categories, and use of local waterways.

Handouts on water quality parameters and home water testing were available, as well as the 2017 annual report from the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies (SRHCES). Several posters and projects were also on display, providing more information on the CWI and its student-faculty research efforts.

“One of the goals of the CWI is educational outreach, especially promoting the message of understanding the importance of clean water,” explained Mel Zimmerman, Ph.D., professor emeritus of biology at Lycoming College and director of the CWI. “I enjoy observing the development of our CWI interns in communicating their knowledge of aquatic biology and environmental watershed issues to a variety of people of different ages and backgrounds. The CWI’s educational outreach is one part of Lycoming College’s commitment of engagement in the local community.”

Turnout for the workshop consisted largely of young children and their parents, a group that appealed to Brooke Millisock ’20 of Milroy, Pa. “I’m grateful to be able to work with the CWI because of opportunities like this,” said Millisock. “I really enjoy fostering the kids’ interest in science.”

This marks the second and final floating classroom workshop for the CWI this summer. On June 12, the group presented a program on the biology of the eastern hellbender.

The CWI is comprised of Lycoming College faculty and students, and contributes to the area’s understanding and health of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and its tributaries, providing students with the opportunity to gain hands-on field experience in our local waterways. For more information on the CWI, visit