The Effect of the Location of Bodies of Water in Mercer County on Water Quality

Student: Lily Orn
Table: 5
Experimentation location: Home
Regulated Research (Form 1c): No
Project continuation (Form 7): No

Display board image not available



No additional citations

Additional Project Information

Project website: -- No project website --
Research paper:
Additional Resources: -- No resources provided --

Research Plan:

The water quality of lakes/rivers/ponds in New Jersey have declined over the years due to runoff, pollution, human activity, and animal life. Certain environmental factors can have an immense affect on the water quality of a body of water. In recent years the water quality in New Jersey has been declining, and many lakes have also been hit with algae blooms. Runoff has been a leading cause for many particles and bacteria to enter bodies of water. The amount of pollution has also increased over the years. For this project I am testing several different parameters, which are the pH level, nitrites, nitrates, alkalinity, sulfate, and sodium chloride. I am also looking at each water sample underneath a microscope to look for any microorganisms. To prepare for the project I found 4 lakes/ponds that all have different amounts of human activity, animal life, pollution, and runoff. I made sure to find bodies of water that all had different amounts of environmental factors because the purpose of my project is to test my hypothesis and answer my testable question that these environmental factors can negatively affect water quality. 



  1. Collect water samples from each location and the tap water from your kitchen sink (not filtered). Make sure to collect each sample in separate containers. Be careful while collecting your samples not to touch your face or get any water in your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  2. Take note of any environmental factors that may affect the water quality of your sample. (human activity, animal life, runoff, and pollution)
  3. You can compare all samples based on appearance. (How dirty the water was on a scale of 1-5)
  4. Once you complete step 3 take your water test strips and test all samples individually. Make sure to look at the directions for the test strips, most test strips need to be read within a certain amount of time to be the most accurate. Record the tests for all samples.
  5. Then, take one of your samples and use a pipette to put a drop of your sample onto a petri dish. To obtain the clearest image underneath the microscope, adjust the level of focus and the size of the microscope. Make sure to take images of anything found. (optional step)
  6. After, if you are looking at the samples underneath a microscope repeat step 5 for all samples.
  7. Finally compare the data found of all water samples including any data taken from the test strips, images, and any other data recorded.


  • Sample of water from Colonial Lake
  • Sample of water from Pond Run 
  • Sample of water from Carnegie Lake
  • Sample of water from Rosedale Lake
  • Tap water sample (unfiltered)
  • Varify Complete Water Test Kit (16 parameter water test strips)
  • Wolfe Microscope
  • Petri Dishes 
  • Pipettes
  • Containers



  1. Be careful when collecting water sample to not touch your face.
  2. Do not get any of the water samples in your mouth, ears, or nose.



To analyze the data I collected, I looked back at the notes I took at each of the lakes/pond. Once I put all of the data onto a data table I tested each water sample individually using the Varify 16 parameter testing kit. Then, I will be taking photos of all the test strips and collecting the data from the results of the test strips. After all water samples are tested I will be looking at the water samples underneath a microscope to look for any microorganisms. After the experiment is done and the data is collecting I will be recording all the information into graphs and making them data tables.


The location of a body of water does affect the water quality. My water samples were all taken from different lakes/ponds that have different environments. The body of water that the overall out of range test levels was Pond Run. Pond Run has a high amount of animal life in the area, which includes fish, snakes, birds, and squirrels. It has a high amount of human traffic within the area. It appears that there would also be a high level of runoff that goes into Pond Run. Additionally I found some trash around Pond Run. In comparison, my water sample that in general was closest to my tap water sample was Rosedale Lake. Rosedale did appear to have a high animal rate, but the only animals seen were geese that were further out in the lake. The area did have some human activity, but it was minimal. There seemed to be some runoff, but not in the area I collected my data from. There was some trash near the lake, but it was overall clean. My evidence supports my claim because it proves that my hypothesis was correct. Pond Run had higher levels of animal life, human traffic, runoff, and pollution compared to Rosedale Lake. The nitrite/nitrate levels of the water samples of both bodies of water corresponds with my background research. Pond Run had a nitrate level of 10 and nitrite level of 1 while Rosedale Lake had a nitrite and nitrate level of 0. Fish are more common in Pond Run that would result in more ammonia which would cause higher nitrite/nitrate levels. The pH levels of the 2 bodies of water were also different. Rosedale had a pH of 6.7 and Pond Run had a pH level of 5.9. Rosedale Lake’s pH was within the recommended level of pH for drinking water while Pond Run was not. Overall the location of the body of water and the environmental factors did have an affect on the water quality.

The water sample from Rosedale lake had very little microorganisms which was expected because the sample seemed mostly clean and had few visible particles. The only microorganisms seen underneath the microscope was algae. Overall Rosedale Lake was exceptionally clean, and had little trash. Carnegie Lake was moderately clean as well, but there was a much higher amount of human activity in the area. There also seemed to be some runoff, but specifically around the area I got my sample from. Underneath the microscopes I only found minimal microorganisms such as algae. Colonial Lake’s results fit with my hypothesis because the water sample was dirtier even to the naked eye. There is a high level of human activity, animal life, and runoff. In the area I collected my sample from there was a downhill slope which could cause stormwater runoff. Underneath the microscope I found small mobile microorganisms, a high level of algae, and what appeared to be bubbles of oxygen. Pond Run’s results in general are very different from the other samples. The area surrounding Pond Run had a high level of animal life, human activity, runoff, and pollution. Pond Run has an exceedingly high level of stormwater runoff because of the weather in the area and the downhill slope going towards the water. The water sample I collected was very murky and contained some dirt. While looking at the sample underneath the microscope I found multiple arthropods, copepods to be specific. I also found a chironomidae larva, which is a bloodworm larva. A possible source of error in this experiment is, due to the lakes being frozen at the time, the sample collected from Rosedale Lake was taken from further out in the lake. While all other samples were collected closer to shore.


Questions and Answers

1. What was the major objective of your project and what was your plan to achieve it? 

The major objective of my project is to find how numerous environmental factors at different bodies of water within Mercer County can affect a body of water's quality. Environmental factors such as runoff, human activity, animal life, and pollution can all have negative effects on water quality. Each location has different amounts of each of these environmental factors, and the contrasting amount of these factors can have an immense difference on water quality. To achieve this I collected samples of water from 4 separate bodies of water within Mercer County and compared them to unfiltered tap water. Each of them had different environments, and different amounts of animal life and human activity. I tested each of the water samples for pH level, sodium chloride, nitrites, nitrates, sulfate, and alkalinity. Additionally I looked at each sample underneath a microscope. The purpose of looking at them underneath a microscope was to look for any microorganisms that could potentially be within the samples.

       a. Was that goal the result of any specific situation, experience, or problem you encountered?

While collecting my data I encountered the problem that the lakes/ponds were frozen due to the temperatures being well below freezing when I collected my data. Fortunately every body of water still had sections that were only partially frozen.  

       b. Were you trying to solve a problem, answer a question, or test a hypothesis?

The purpose of my project is to test my hypothesis. My hypothesis is, if the amount of animal life, human traffic, and runoff increases, a body of water’s quality (purity) compared to tap water will decrease because those factors can negatively affect the quality of the water. 

2. What were the major tasks you had to perform in order to complete your project?

The major tasks I had to perform in order to complete my project was going to each location of the 4 different lakes/ponds and collecting samples of water. I also looked at each sample underneath a microscope multiple times, and tested each sample of water for pH level, nitrates, nitrites, alkalinity, sodium chloride, and sulfate.

       a. For teams, describe what each member worked on.

I completed my project by myself.

3. What is new or novel about your project?

Something that is "new or novel" about my project is that some of the environmental factors I am looking for in my project is caused by modern day things. For example human activities such as farming, livestock, pest control, and other activities that use harmful chemicals can cause chemicals and other bacteria to get into bodies of water. 

       a. Is there some aspect of your project's objective, or how you achieved it that you haven't done before?

My project's objective was to see how various environmental factors affect water quality in bodies of water. I have never done a science project regarding the environment and how different factors from it can affect many things within it. In the past my science fair projects were collected from my house in a controlled environment, but with this science fair project I collected the data from outside in an uncontrolled environment.

       b. Is your project's objective, or the way you implemented it, different from anything you have seen?

I have seen projects similar to mine, but the projects I have seen in the past tried to filter the water and then compare it to tap water afterwards, but in my project I looked at different environmental factors and the location of each body of water. I also tested my samples for various parameters and I looked for microorganisms.

       c. If you believe your work to be unique in some way, what research have you done to confirm that it is?

I believe that my work is unique in some way because for this project I am looking further into the different environmental factors. I am also comparing bodies of water that all have different amounts of environmental factors. Furthermore, I am looking at the water samples underneath a microscopes to see what kind of microorganisms are living in the water.


4. What was the most challenging part of completing your project?

The most challenging part of my project was collecting my data because the lakes/ponds were partially frozen at the time.

      a. What problems did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?

The main problem I encountered was that the lakes/ponds were frozen when I collected the water samples. I overcame the problem by finding parts of the lakes/ponds that were not frozen and collecting the samples from there.

      b. What did you learn from overcoming these problems?

I learned that even though at first it seemed like I would not be able to collect the water samples that day I was able to because I kept looking for other solutions. 


5. If you were going to do this project again, are there any things you would you do differently the next time?

Next time I would collect the sample in the summer. By collecting the samples in the summer I would be able to more accurately measure the animal life in the lakes/ponds.


6. Did working on this project give you any ideas for other projects? 

This project gave me the idea for doing a project looking at the different environmental factors and testing if it affects the amount of animal life in the lakes/ponds.


7. How did COVID-19 affect the completion of your project?

No Covid-19 did not affect the completion of my project.