STREAM MONITOR RESULTS
What do we do and how do we do it? We use the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) Save Our Streams (SOS) protocol to evaluate the overall water quality of Sleepy Creek at a given location on a given day. The activity is divided into two parts.
We first measure chemical elements in the water such as acidity/alkalinity (pH), the ability to conduct heat or electricity (conductivity), dissolved oxygen, and sediment content. Also subjectively noted and rated are the physical conditions of the monitoring site: temperature, water clarity and color, the presence and color of algae, the width, depth and flow rate of the water, size and quantity of stones in the stream bed, bank stability, and the presence or absence of trees, shrubs and other vegetation on or near the stream banks (riparian buffer). The quantified collected data is entered into a preset formula which provides a qualitative number that represents the Habitat Conditions of the stream. A rating of 170 or greater is Excellent, 169 to 150 is Very Good, 149 to 120 is Marginal, and below 120 is Poor.
The following table provides examples of the qualitative results for five years of the Habitat Conditions at two of our regular monitoring sites.
|Dawson Farm (Creek Road)||162Very Good||135Marginal||170Very Good||166Very Good|
|Meadows Farm (Spohrs & Mt. Run Roads)||120Marginal||140Marginal||134Marginal||151Very Good||160Very Good|
The second fun activity of water quality monitoring is catching water-dwelling bugs (Benthic Macroinvertebrates) in a net and counting and categorizing them. The numbers and types of macros (bugs) found help evaluate the stream health because some macros cannot tolerate polluted water, while others thrive in polluted water. The collected macros are counted and categorized according to their species tolerance to pollution: low, medium, and high. For example, a higher population of low tolerance macros would indicate the stream is less polluted. Similar to the Habitat Condition formula, the macro count and categorization leads to a score that represents the ‘grade’ of the Biological Conditions of the stream at the monitoring location. A score of over 80 is Optimal, 79.9 to 60 is Suboptimal, 59.9 to 45 is Marginal, and a score of less than 45 is ‘Poor’.
The following table shows five years of measured Biological Conditions at the same two monitoring sites.
|Dawson Farm (Creek Road)||86.8Optimal||78.3Suboptimal||83.4Optimal||78.9Suboptimal|
|Meadows Farm (Spohrs & Mt. Run Roads)||76.8Suboptimal||71.9Suboptimal||83.6Optimal||77.9Suboptimal||79.5Suboptimal|
As you can see from the above tables, there is minor variation in statistics at each site year to year. This in part is due to some of the subjective nature of the ratings, weather conditions (quantity and timing of rainfall is a major influencing factor), and human intervention. For example, the marginal Habitat and suboptimal Biological ratings at the Dawson Farm location in 2012 was caused in part by a Sleepy Creek Watershed stream bank stabilization project accomplished there. Likewise we would like to think that part of the noted improvement in both Habitat and Biological ratings are the results of some best management practices being implemented in the Sleepy Creek Watershed. Examples of these practices include riparian buffer and other tree plantings, recurring septic pumping and repairs, storm water management, stream bank stabilization, and encouraging the use of restrictive livestock fencing.
In addition to maintaining and using the collected data locally, it is also provided to the WVDEP where it is added to their database. This database provides a state-wide tool for baselining and assessing regional and local water quality, developing trend information, and the prioritizing resources to mitigate known existing or threatening water quality issues.
You will notice that the 2015 data is missing for the Dawson Farm site. The following article provides you a stream monitoring opportunity at the Dawson Farm that will result in the production of the missing numbers!
PARTICIPATE IN STREAM MONITORING ON AUGUST 29TH
Stream monitoring remains an important part of the Association’s recurring activities and your participation is highly encouraged. Want to learn more and participate in the fun of water quality stream monitoring? Please join us on Sleepy Creek at the Dawson Farm on Creek Road at 10 AM on Saturday, August 29, 2015. The easiest route is to turn left on Oakland Road from Rte. 522 south and then turn left on Creek Road. Look for the SCWA signs on the right side of the road. Families and youth over the age of 10 are invited to participate as well. All that is required is a pair of boots or sports shoes you don’t mind getting wet and an eager attitude to learn and participate. See you there!