The Powerhouse acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the ancestral homelands upon which our museums are situated. We respect their Elders, past, present and future and recognise their continuous connection to Country.
2001/57/1 Water quality monitoring kit, LaMotte SMART Colorimeter kit, electronic components / plastic / metal / foam / glass / bottled chemicals, colorimeter made by LaMotte, Chestertown, Maryland, United States of America, chemicals prepared and kit assembled by Vendart, Sydney, New South Wales, A. Click to enlarge.

Streamwatch chemical analysis kit

The New South Wales Streamwatch project began in 1990 and is one of many 'citizen science' river-monitoring projects around the world. Participants use kits like this, containing a colourimeter, stopwatch, thermometer, indicator strips, chemicals and laboratory vessels, to measure dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand, total phosphorus, nitrates, turbidity (cloudiness), pH (acidity), total dissolved solids and temperature. These measurements are repeated over time to help understand …


Object No.


Object Statement

Water quality monitoring kit, LaMotte SMART Colorimeter kit, electronic components / plastic / metal / foam / glass / bottled chemicals, colorimeter made by LaMotte, Chestertown, Maryland, United States of America, chemicals prepared and kit assembled by Vendart, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, for Streamwatch, 2001

Physical Description

The kit is packed in a moulded black plastic suitcase with a foam lining in which the various plastic bottles, tubes, and measuring equipment are placed in precut recesses to ensure they do not move during transport to the test site. The equipment used and various tests to undertake them are listed below.

Contents of the Kit

In the lid of the case:
two half turbidity tubes

Contents of the case:

LaMotte SMART Colorimeter which is a multi-wavelength filter colorimeter comprising six internal, non-removable narrowband pass interference filters and automatic filter selection.
Four reagents in glass bottles (clear, blue, yellow and pink).
Plastic eyedropper with orange rubber top.
5g brown glass jar with black plastic lid labelled "Phos Reduc" (empty).
Glass and plastic snap plunger water sampler.
Plastic packet containing 100 pH indicator strips.
Total Dissolved Solids meter.
Stopwatch (Dick Smith).
Plastic measuring cylinder.
50 ml plastic beaker.
100 ml glass conical flask.
60 ml plastic bottle labeled "Phosphate Acid Reagent" (empty).
Clear plastic bottle labelled "Total Dissolved Solids Meter Calibration Soln 3000PPM"(empty).
Plastic sample bottle with white lid.
120 ml clear plastic bottle labelled "Sodium Hydroxide 15 percent" (empty).
60 ml clear plastic bottle labelled "Sulphuric Acid 36 percent" (empty).
15 ml white plastic bottle labelled "Phenolphthalein" (empty).
30g brown glass jar labelled "Ammonium Persulfate" (empty).
Half gram white plastic measuring spoon.

In the black plastic box within the case:
Three plastic bottles of reagents:
No.1 Manganous Sulfate labelled "Mang Sulf" (empty).
No.2 Alkaline Potassium Iodide Azide labelled "Alk Pot Iodide Azide" (empty).
No.3 labelled "Sulfuric Acid" (empty).
Clear glass water sampling bottle.
Clear plastic eyedropper with black top.
Glass and plastic snap plunger water sampler.
30 ml white plastic bottle labelled "Starch Ind" (empty).
Clear glass sample jar with black lid.
60 ml clear plastic bottle labelled "Thiosulfate 0.025N" (empty).
20 ml glass sample jar with clear plastic lid with hole.

The following is a description of the tests capable of being undertaken with the kit:


Water temperature influences the amount of oxygen that can be dissolved in the water and the diversity of aquatic organisms that can survive. The temperature is converted as a percentage saturation of dissolved oxygen and measured with an alcohol filled graduated thermometer in a hard plastic safety housing. (Mercury filled thermometers are not used due to their potential for toxic contamination if broken.)


Turbidity is a measure of the clarity of water. Lack of clarity or cloudiness is caused by suspended solid matter in the form of sediment, plankton, algae, sewage or industrial wastes. The result of long term high turbidity may be reduced biodiversity. The two, half turbidity tubes are strapped into the lid of the suitcase kit with Velcro tapes. They have a graduated scale running down the side marked in Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU's). The two half tubes are assembled and water from the stream is poured in gradually. An observer looking down on the column of water notes when a mark at the base of the tube is obscured.

Total Dissolved Solids

The Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) is a measure of the dissolved salts in the water, the most import being calcium, bicarbonate, nitrate, phosphate, potassium, iron and sulphur ions. The sources of dissolved solids include rocks and soils from the catchment, and polluted effluent. Salts control osmotic pressure and affect which species can survive in water. Sodium chloride (sea salt) causes extensive salinity problems in rural areas as a result of rising water tables bringing salt to the surface. TDS readings are normally lowest during high flows and increase as water levels decrease.

The TDS are measured with the TDS meter, which is a small hand held beige and tan-coloured plastic rectangular-shaped device with the wording "TDScan10" on the front. The test is a conductivity test of the available ions in the water. The probes on the TDS meter measure the flow of electricity by these ions. The meter has a carrier clip at the back to prevent being accidentally dropped in the water and rendered inoperable. The TDS meter is made in Singapore.

pH test

pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. The optimal pH for most organisms in Australian waterways is 6.5 pH to 8.2 pH. Acid water below 5.5 pH will cause heavy metals normally trapped in sediments to be released in forms that can be toxic to aquatic organisms. Acid water causes fish and other aquatic organisms to suffer from skin irritations, tumours, ulcers and impaired gill function. Extremely high or low pH levels lead to the death of aquatic life.

pH is tested with a pH indicator strip. The kit contains a clear plastic packet containing 100 strips together with the indicator code. The packet is labelled "Macherey-Nagel".

Dissolved Oxygen Test

Dissolved Oxygen (DO) is important because all fish, invertebrates and amphibians need oxygen to breathe. Oxygen gets into the water by air being dissolved at the surface; via aquatic plants and algae expelling oxygen; and air being stirred into water by waves, waterfalls and riffles. DO levels will be low where there are high levels of organic waste such as sewage and decaying plant material. DO is measured with the LaMotte SMART Colorimeter made in Chestertown, Maryland, USA, 21620. (A separate operator's manual for the Colorimeter is included in this acquisition). A black plastic box within the kit is set aside for the DO tests. It contains three plastic bottles of reagents, No.1 Manganous Sulfate, No.2 Alkaline Potassium Iodide Azide and No.3 Sulfuric Acid. For the test the three reagents are added to the stream water sample, which is then placed in the SMART Colorimeter.

Phosphate Test

The Total Phosphates test measures all phosphate, soluble and insoluble, organic and inorganic, in the sample. Levels of phosphate compounds are naturally low in Australia but introduced plants are adapted to higher levels of phosphates found in the Northern Hemisphere. When waterways have an influx of high levels of nutrients (from phosphates) growing conditions favour exotic plants to the detriment of native species. Sources of phosphate compounds include manure from feedlots, dairies, and pet droppings; sewage; phosphate-based detergents; decaying plant material; fertilisers; and industrial waste. Consequences of high phosphate levels are an abundance of algae and aquatic weeds; waterways choked with vegetation resulting in reduced penetration of light; increased BOD; reduced DO leading to fish kills; reduced animal and plant diversity; blue-green algal blooms; and eutrophication.

To determine the Total Phosphates load of a stream the insoluble phosphates must first be broken away from the sediments and organic matter to which they are bound. This is achieved through an acid digestion procedure where a sample of water is combined with sulphuric acid and boiled for ten minutes. The test is undertaken using the plastic measuring cylinder and glass conical flask. Half a gram of ammonium persulfate speeds up the reaction. All the phosphates become soluble orthophosphates and are then tested with a reagent in the SMART Colorimeter.

Rate of flow

Rate of flow is the volume of water flowing past a specific site every second, measured in cubic metres per second. To calculate the flow rate it is necessary to multiply the cross-sectional area of the water by the steam velocity. A stopwatch is included in the kit for this test.



The Streamwatch Kit, known as the SMART Water Quality Monitoring Kit, was produced by a small family company called Vendart Pty Ltd. Vendart has assembled all the kits for Streamwatch since 1993. It has three staff members.

As well as kits for Streamwatch, the firm produces water-testing kits for commercial and industrial firms and local councils. Water quality tests are undertaken on boilers, cooling towers, swimming pools and by industries involved in water treatment. In recent years regulatory bodies bringing in best practice methods for the food processing industry have called on Vendart to supply monitoring equipment to check the purity of pre-packed food prepared for airlines such as Qantas.



The Steamwatch kit was especially assembled for acquisition and display in the EcoLogic exhibition by Vendart Pty Ltd in 2001.


Credit Line

Gift of Vendart Pty Ltd, 2001

Acquisition Date

24 July 2001

Cite this Object


Streamwatch chemical analysis kit 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 October 2021, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Streamwatch chemical analysis kit |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 October 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}