Love your stream? Be a volunteer monitor!
Ronna Haxby, MO Projects Director, Ozarks Water Watch
Do you care about water quality? Do you like to get out into streams? Are you curious about what kind of critters live in the streambed and want to learn how to identify them and what that means about water quality? Do you want to do something meaningful? Ozarks Water Watch (OWW) has the perfect project for you!
In 2012 OWW began organizing citizen volunteer teams to monitor the water quality in many of our major streams in Missouri and Arkansas. In Missouri we partner with Missouri Stream Team to train the volunteers. In Arkansas, the Projects Director, Angela Danovi organizes an annual volunteer training day followed up with at-the-site training.
All the sites are currently covered in Arkansas, but Missouri needs a few more volunteers. Volunteers are asked to go out to a specific, assigned stream site 4 times a year, between April 1st and October 15th, and do streamside monitoring. A water sample is always collected, frozen and picked up at the end of the year by scientists from the Missouri University to test for nitrogen and phosphorus. These nutrients are the key ingredient (along with sunshine and warm temperatures) responsible for algae growth in the water.
You will go out with other trained volunteers who have the expertise and equipment to monitor water chemistry and identify the various macroinvertebrates that live in the streambed. The type, diversity and quantity of these little critters can tell us a lot about the quality of the water.
Some, like mayflies, stoneflies and water pennies are very sensitive to their habitat while others, including aquatic worms, leeches and pouch snails can live in just about any body of water. Volunteers also do visual surveys and measure the streamflow (speed and volume of water).
This data is turned into MO Stream Team and used by OWW to publish the annual "Status of the Watershed" report. Once a volunteer reaches a certain level of training, the data is also valued by DNR and other city and state agencies.
If you are interested in learning more, contact Ronna at 417-739-5001. There is a Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring (VWQM) orientation meeting on March 13th in Springfield. This would be a perfect time to get started with your VWQM adventure! RSVP is required.