Front Entrance of Ruth Patrick Science and Education Center

RPSEC Environmental Science Award 2015

Ruth Patrick Science Education Center

Congratulations to Olivia Barrett from Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, Augusta, GA, recipient of the 2015 Ruth Patrick Science and Education Center Environmental Science Award.

The 2015 CSRA Regional Science and Engineering Fair was held on March 14 at USC Aiken. There were over 200 projects from CSRA schools displayed at the fair. Each year, the RPSEC presents an environmental science award in honor of Dr. Ruth Patrick. Dr. Patrick pioneered work in the study of fresh water ecosystems and developed methods for measuring the health of these systems.

On a side note, this was also a special Pi Day. On 3/14/15 at 9:26:53, we celebrated the first 10 digits of Pi, 3.141592653

2015 Olivia Barrett sampling 1
2015 Olivia Barrett sampling 2

Title of Project

"Coliform Levels in the Augusta Canal"


Coliform bacteria are a group of microorganisms that aid in digestion and are found in the intestines of animals, animal waste, soil, and plant material.  The three types of coliform include total coliform, fecal coliform, and Escherichia coli (E. coli).  Total coliform is found in soil that has been contaminated with the waste of cold and warm blooded animals.  Fecal coliform is a subset of total coliform that is only found in fecal matter of warm blooded animals.  E. coli is the main subset of fecal coliform that is also found in warm blooded animals’ feces.  E. coli was used as an indicator for contamination in the Augusta Canal.  Adopt-A-Stream protocols were followed and using 3M Petrifilm E. coli/Coliform count plates, five different locations on the Augusta Canal have been monitored bimonthly for the past two years.  Two sample sites have consistently shown the presence of both total coliform and E. coli.  Petrifilm growth has indicated as many as 12,000 E. coli per 100 ml at both.  Since August 2014, sites 2 and 4 have a mean of 5,540 per 100 ml plus or minus 4,580 and 5,150 per 100 ml plus or minus 4,300 respectively.  This exceeds the EPA’s limits by at least 5,000/100ml.  The city of Augusta was informed of these data last year and took corrective actions.  We will present this year’s data to the Director of Utilities this spring.