The environment around testing sites contributes to the difference in the pH of water. Things like vegetation, water flow, location, organisms within the water, and the conditions of the soil are contributing factors to changes in pH level. During a recent experiment, it was hypothesized that water samples collected at the Urban Ecology Center (Menomonee Valley) have lower levels of pH than Estabrook Park. This experiment was conducted by collecting eight H2O samples from each site. The data we collected was within the hours of 1200 and 2200 and at these times pH levels are expected to be different in the mornings versus evenings in both areas studied. By the collected data it was found that our data was not statistically significant (P=1.2795 X 10⁻¹).


Keywords: pH, Urban Ecology Center, Estabrook Park



Potential hydrogen levels (pH) measures the concentration of H+ ions on a scale that ranges from 0-14. The scale allows for the measure of acidity or alkalinity of the solutions being used. On the pH scale 7 is the control and is also neutral. 0-7 is considered the acidic solutions and 8-14 is considered the basic solutions. The pH of water can vary and be very critical to aquatic life. Many factors can affect the levels of pH.

All living things like plants, animals, bacteria, and algae need water in order to survive. Water is a vital molecule, for the anabolism of ATP in photosynthetic cells (Forti, 2008). The H20 in the river is an environment for an array of organisms. The plants surrounding this environment are an essential source of nutrients for the organisms present. The effects of pH could possibly harm and destroy the life of the organisms thriving in that environment. Water levels having a pH of 5 may kill fish and aquatic insects due to their sensitivity to lower pH levels (Dawood & Li, 2013).  A cause for the rivers low pH level can be due to cellular respiration happening. During Cellular respiration plants produce carbon dioxide that’s converted to weaker acid when mixed with water, which then results in carbonic acid (Richter, et al., 2013). The lower levels of pH, affects the metabolism of fish. This could be due to the constant increase of metal being released from rocks and sediment. The fish cannot intake water through their gills (Dawod & Li, 2013). Denaturing of cellular membranes of the fish and other organism occurs when pH levels are too high or too basic around the value of 9.5 (Dawood & Li, 2013).  Extremely high levels like 9-14 can also convert ammonium into toxic ammonia (NH3), killing off the species (Dawood & Li, 2013). The quality of the H20 depends on the pH levels. This experiment was conducted to test the pH levels at Estabrook Park and the Urban Ecology Center, to compare and contrast the pH levels in both locations. We hypothesized the Urban Ecology Center pH levels in the water is lower than the pH level in the water at Estabrook Park, because the Urban Ecology Center used to be surrounded by old factories and high levels of waste. That could be the reason why there is more toxic waste in the water.





Materials and Methods

            Two sites were used to collect data from; the Urban Ecology Center (Menomonee Valley) and Estabrook Park. The Urban Ecology Center (Menomonee Valley) is located at 3700 West Pierce Street Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53215. Estabrook Park is located at 4400 North Estabrook Drive Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53211. Materials used in this investigation were flag markers, a measuring tape, and a Carolina 186018 pH Meter. On November 6, 2013 between the hours of 1200 and 2200 a total of eight samples were taken at both sites. The first point to be tested was chosen, a flag was placed in that area and the probe of the pH meter was placed in the river to attain the pH.  This was done or all eight samples. The data was analyzed using Excel© for Windows 2007©, with a type 1, tailed 1 Ttest.














Based on the data (see Fig. 1), the pH of the H20 at the Urban Ecology Center is greater than Estabrook Park. Through statistical testing, it has been identified that the pH of the H20 at the Urban Ecology Center wasn’t lower than Estabrook Park. There was no significant difference (P=1.2795 X 10⁻¹). The mean pH at the Urban Ecology Center was 7.73 with a standard deviation of .10. The mean of Estabrook Park was 6.09 with a standard deviation of 3.73.


Figure 1: Mean (+/- S.D>) of pH in Urban Ecology Center and Estabrook Park.




            This study analyzed the pH level in the H20 at the Urban Ecology Center (Menomonee Valley) and the pH level in the H20 at Estabrook Park. The results indicate that the pH of the water from the Urban Ecology Center was greater than Estabrook Park with a mean value of 7.73. The p value is not significant. There was not a great variation between the pH and the likelihood of the difference in pH is not due to chance. The hypothesis is refuted.

 An area for improvement in this experiment is observation. The team could have observed surroundings of the area in depth to determine what increases or decreases the pH level. Researchers could revise the requirements and procedures to have each sample tested at the exact same time for each site.  In order to find the comparison did not have any contributing factors. These may include water flow, the amount of vegetation in the site being tested, and the dead organisms within the sites being tested.



Literature Cited

Dawood, A., S. & Li, Y. (2013). Modeling and optimization of new flocculant dosage and pH for

            Flocculation: Removal of pollutants from wastewater. Water, 5(2).p. 342-355; doi:

            10.3390/w5020342. Retrieved from: http://www.mpdi.com/2073-4441/5/2/342


Forti, G. (2008). Biochimica et biophysica acta (bba) - bioenergetics. Bioenergetics. The role of

Respiration in the activation in photosynthesis upon illumination of dark adapted

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii 1777 (11), 1449-1459. Retrieved from:




Richter, B. D., Methews, R., & Winginton, H., (2003). Ecologically sustainable water

            management: Managing river flows for ecological integrity. Ecological applications,

            13(1), 206-224. Retrieved from: http://jstor.org/stable/3099960