Part of her research involves testing the water on the outside of the cave. But Kneirim says, like any good mystery, you have to dig a little deeper to get the real story.
Kathy's research has led her into the Blowing Springs cave. To do this story I even had to put on a hard hat with a light and crawl in with her. It's not every day that your assignment exploring through a cave with a light and gloves.
Caving allows Kneirim to track water quality with specially designed meters a mile deep, and then track the changes as it flows out into Bella Vista and so many other areas in Northwest Arkansas.
Kathy says rain can cause some problems for our drinking water. “After it rains that water can get very quickly into the groundwater. Things like pesticides, manure, bacteria. All of that can be pushed into our groundwater.’’
Kathy is underground three to four hours at a time doing the research that will make up her doctoral dissertation.
She often puts on her coat and heads out during rainy weather to measure the quality of the water. “You can measure differences in chemistry throughout a rainstorm and find out what's coming out of the ground, the soil, and the bedrock and relate that to the water quality,’’ said Kathy.
The feat is not exactly simpe though. If you want to get back to the end of Blowing Springs Cave, you have to belly crawl in cold shallow water for about a half hour, then go through another knee bending walk for another half a mile.
It's a long way to go, but for our H2O it's worth every minute.