By Megan McKnight, USAG Bavaria Environmental Division
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Water quality directly impacts environmental and human health; consequently, human actions can influence water quality. Proactive management approaches are some of the best ways to protect, and ensure, healthy water resources. Thus in late December 2021, the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Environmental Division collected surface water samples from across the Grafenwoehr Training Area.
As part of a long-term monitoring project to ensure the health of water resources throughout USAG Bavaria, 26 lakes and streams are routinely sampled across the GTA. Despite the winter weather, every year the Environmental Division completes their sampling season in December.
This project includes sampling at established groundwater wells and surface water locations. Water quality parameters — such as temperature, pH, electrical conductivity and oxygen content — are collected on-site. Then water samples are transported to a lab for analysis of other water quality indicators — such as heavy metals and explosives.
Data collected during these efforts are stored in a database that spans back to the 1980s, which is used to monitor the health of the ecosystems across GTA and assess any potential impacts that military training may have on water-quality. These efforts help the Environmental Division team make appropriate management decisions, regarding land and water resources, for the GTA. Sound land and water management plans ensure optimal landscapes for military operations, healthy habitats for fish and wildlife and suitable conditions for recreation.
Environmental health is a collaborative effort. Community members can help keep water resources clean and healthy, by correctly storing and disposing of hazardous wastes, immediately reporting POL spills, cleaning up after pets, and keeping trash out of waterways by not littering.