Testing the Waters at Georgia Aquarium
The Aquarium contains more than 10 million gallons of water, which requires plenty of daily testing and TLC.
When people visit the Georgia Aquarium, they’re transfixed by the astounding variety of aquatic life, from to turtles to rays to whale sharks. But most don’t stop to think about the water it’s swimming in.
“These animals live in the water. It’s their living room, their bedroom, their bathroom — it’s everything,” said Susan Goodridge, manager of the Water Quality Lab at Georgia Aquarium. It’s her team’s job to make sure that home is a healthy one. “If we can keep the habitats healthy, we prevent a lot of the problems that an animal could develop if they weren’t in clean water with clean air.”
Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere, with more than 10 million gallons of water. All that water requires plenty of daily testing — for bacteria, fungal plumes, microorganisms, etc. — and plenty of TLC to ensure the water chemistry maintains the perfect balance and the pH and temperature mimic the natural environment the animals hail from. The Aquarium conducts some 5,000 tests per week at the lab on site and also partners with universities and other organizations to study samples and compare data.
“We are a microcosm here, and our struggles reflect concerns for water everywhere. We are a closed system with 10 year old water, but the planet is a closed system also, with water millions of years old,” said Goodridge. “The water that was on our planet from day one is the same water we have now. So the lessons we learn about filtering and conservation, those are all lessons that also protect the planet.”