Brandon Ralph McBride: Lake Mead Water Quality

Brandon Ralph McBride is a biotech consultant and chemist with Middle Ground Consulting, LLC, in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has an increasing interest in environmental chemistry and water quality, and during the summer of 2014 was sent on an expedition to analyze the water quality of Lake Mead, along the Nevada-Arizona state line.

Brandon Ralph McBride

Brandon Ralph McBride

Water quality, as Brandon Ralph McBride knows, refers to the condition of water, including its chemical and biological characteristics. Water quality testing is most often done to determine the suitability of water sources for such purposes as drinking or swimming. It is measured by several factors, like the density of dissolved oxygen, levels of bacteria, salinity, and turbidity, which refers to how much material is suspended in the water.

“Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as saying ‘this sample is good, and this sample is bad,'” says Brandon Ralph McBride. “The determination is made with the purpose of the water in mind. Is it going to be used for recreational purposes, like swimming? Or is it going to be used for drinking, or washing a car? Or will it be used for something else?”

Poor water quality, he says, can pose a serious health risk for people.

The Lake Mead tests are inconclusive. Monitoring this watershed is important, he says, because of ever-greater demands that are made upon it. Lake Mead was the world’s largest man-made lake in the world at the time it was formed following completion of the Hoover Dam in 1935. Today more than twenty-two million people rely on its water for drinking and recreational purposes.

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