How Clean is Your Cannonball?


In lieu of our recent week-long heat wave, everyone on campus is looking for ways to cool off. From hanging out in the East Common Room to sitting in Simon to praying to have class in CEI, all everyone wants to do is stop the sweat and find a way to be more comfortable.

The number one choice across campus to achieve this is by going to the rope swing and jumping into the Contoocook River. Taking that little dip is wonderful and always does the trick but everyone forgets to ask an important question: How clean is the water?

Students and townies jump in the water multiple times during the hotter months in Henniker. Yet, no one asks what they are jumping into.

Although we only experience a small portion of the river here in Henniker, The Contoocook River is 71-miles-long. It flows from Pool Pond and Contoocook Lake on the Jaffrey-Rindge border to Penacook, where it empties into the Merrimack River. Although the river is large we will focus on one set area, the water near the rope swing.

While testing the water in my brook trout class with Professor Elizabeth Harper, we learned that there are numerous species of macro-invertebrates. Such as Black Fly Lara, Caddisflies, and Aquatic Worms. The presence of certain insects in and around the area proves the quality of the water because these insects can only live under specific conditions.

Since these are the species present in the water, the water is what we would determine as clean and healthy. In addition to that, there is a abundance of macro-invertebrates which means that the water is a thriving ecosystem.

In streams and small bodies of waters most would think that leaches and other parasites would be present yet they are not present in this river. The river is not the correct speed, temperature, or living conditions to even sustain leaches. They would die fairly quickly. While the water may not be as clean as breaking water, its clean enough for a quick cool down.

So the next time you think of jumping in the river there should be no doubt in your mind whether the water is harmful or unsafe. There are a ton of bugs present that are constantly floating around with you, but if they were not there the river would be a dangerous place for a little cool down. These macro-invertebrates are so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye. They must be captured in surveying nets and placed into small containers in order to be seen and to check the amount and condition of their life.

These insects may be gross to many and may even cause some people to shy away from the river, but I am glad that they are alive and here to stay.

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Jordan is a senior at New England College studying environmental studies and sustainability. She is involved in residential life, and writes articles for The New Englander about environmental problems occuring on campus and in the world.
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