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Living Downstream

Atrazine and Coliform Bacteria Effects on Water Quality - A Debate Case


Author(s)

Thomas A. Davis
Division of Molecular and Life Sciences
Loras College
tom.davis@loras.edu

Abstract

In this case, developed for a course in Issues in Environmental Biology, students learn that water samples collected from a local river show elevated levels of fecal bacteria and atrazine, one of the most commonly used herbicides in the United States.  A hearing has been called by the county to investigate the cause of the contamination, possible effects on aquatic life in the river, and what can be done to prevent a recurrence. In the ensuing debate, students must analyze and interpret data as they present the viewpoints of various stakeholders, ranging from the landowners' right to apply atrazine to control weeds, to the responsibility of fisheries biologists and water quality specialists to protect the environment.


Objectives

  • Be able to discuss both sides of a contemporary environmental issue and see how science is involved in producing data and information that is vital to making a decision; as part of this, students write an essay that states their position and explains why they feel that way.
  • See how the scientific method, equipment, data, and results are used to solve everyday environmental problems.
  • Be able to interpret scientific data in graphical or table form and apply it to help understand and solve an environmental problem.

Keywords

Atrazine; herbicide; coliform bacteria; fecal coliform; benthic macroinvertebrate; water quality monitoring

Topical Areas

Scientific argumentation

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Debate, Role-Play

Language

English

Subject Headings

Environmental Science  |   Agriculture  |  


Date Posted

02/10/06

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