A University of Missouri–St. Louis student who has been conducting research on the water quality of a river system in the South American country of Guyana has been invited to play a larger role in helping keep their waterways clean.
Brian Waldrop, a senior biology student at UMSL, has been analyzing small aquatic species and water pollution in the Rupununi River in southern Guyana.
On his most recent trip to Guyana in May, Waldrop gave a presentation to employees of Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency about macroinvertebrates as indicators of stream and ditch quality. They were very impressed. In fact, the EPA employees were so pleased with Waldrop’s presentation that they asked him to return to train members of Guyana EPA’s newly formed division of water quality.
“I will be there to assist them in anyway possible,” Waldrop said. “I am supposed to meet up with this new division in December to test some waters in question and to give them a hands-on lesson in the field.”
It was Waldrop’s third trip to Guyana in the company of Godfrey R. Bourne, his research mentor and associate professor of biology at UMSL.
Waldrop previously accompanied Bourne to Guyana during Winter Intersession 2013 and 2014 to evaluate biodiversity of flora and fauna at Karanambu Trust in the North Rupununi Savannas.
“Brian conducted the second of a 10-year assessment of aquatic macroinvertebrate diversity during the first two weeks of 2014 to assess annual trends in water quality,” Bourne explained. “Overall there had been no deterioration in water quality from 2013 to 2014.”
Waldrop is employed by the Missouri Department of Conservation in the Fisheries Division – Streams Unit. He’s also the St. Louis and Southeast Regional Stream Team Assistant for the Missouri Stream Team program. He’s been a volunteer with the program for almost 20 years. The volunteer-based program focuses on river conservation through educating others, hands-on projects such as litter control and water quality monitoring and advocacy on behalf of streams. The program has more than 5,000 Stream Teams, consisting of more than 90,000 individuals.
Some of his duties include organizing cleanups, monitoring streams and giving presentations.
His stream team is called the Mighty 211.
“Why Mighty? Because my team removes over 5,000 tires out of the streams and floodplains per year and has been able to keep those numbers up since 2006. Before then, we were hitting 3,000 tires per year,” Waldrop said.
In February, Waldrop was named one of 20 reader’s choice “River Champions” as part of American Rivers’ 40th anniversary celebrations. The recognition honors individuals who have shown true dedication to cleaning America’s rivers, thus improving water quality.