Save Our Streams

General Directions/Procedures

1. Call the Project Watershed Director listed on this web site to arrange for a stream survey at least one week in advance. The teacher and school are responsible for transportation. Advise students to dress appropriately for weather conditions and wading in cold water. The teacher should have had previous training in the stream survey procedures employed and be familiar with Izaak Walton League's Save Our Streams Program literature and the publication, Field Manual for Water Quality Monitoring by Mark K. Mitchell and William B. Stapp. (See the User- friendly Water Quality Monitoring Equipment and Curricular Material page.)

2. The Project Watershed Director meets the teacher and student group at the stream site with the stream monitoring equipment. He is accompanied by at least one adult familiar with macroinvertebrate identification.

3. If not familiar with stream survey procedures, students are given a brief orientation by the Director. The teacher and students are provided Field Data Survey Forms and macroinvertebrate identification guide sheets.

4. Using the Central New York Save Our Streams Program Field Data Survey Forms (3), the teacher is responsible for recording the form heading and the General Characteristics of the stream observed on the Field Data Survey form.

5. Students are asked to select a Physical, Chemical or Biological monitoring team. If a second survey is planned, and time permits, the teams may then switch their monitoring assignments.

6. The stream flow (discharge) is estimated or measured by the Physical team. If measured, students first conduct float time trials to compute the stream's average velocity in feet per second. Then, a simple transect is placed across the stream to obtain the stream's cross sectional area at that location. The stream's discharge in cubic feet per second is the product of the average velocity and the computed transectional area. This data is recorded on the Physical Measurement: Stream Flow portion of the Field Data Survey form.

7. Members of the Chemical monitoring team obtain a water sample and perform, under the Director's supervision, the nine water quality measurements. Safety goggles and disposable vinyl gloves are provided and required. One student records the results of the tests on the Chemical Water Quality Measurements form. The fecal coliform count is completed by the Director at his home. The B.O.D. test is completed five days later by the Director, and the results of both tests forwarded to the teacher. When all nine test measurements have been recorded, the teacher assesses and records the Chemical Overall Water Quality Index, by using the aforementioned Field Manual for Water Quality Monitoring. (The fecal coliform count is biological, but for convenience is included in this monitoring component.)

8. Members of the Biological team select a riffle in the stream where the water is not running too fast and the stream bed consists of cobble-sized stones or larger. Ideal stream depth is 3- 12 inches. The riffle area to be surveyed should be 3 feet square (3x3). Following the Save Our Streams Stream Quality Survey Instructions, students conduct three kick Seine net collections of one minute each. They identify, count and categorize the macroinvertebrates found into three pollution sensitive groups - Sensitive, Somewhat Sensitive or Tolerant. A student records the number of each organism identified on the Macroinvertebrate Tally Sheet. The number of each organism is converted to one of the following letter codes: A=1-9, B=10-99, C=100 or more. The number of letters in each column is added and multiplied by the appropriate number indicated (3, 2 or 1) to obtain the Index Value for each column of macroinvertebrates. Finally, the Macroinvertebrate Water Quality Rating for the stream is determined. This information is recorded on the Biological Water Quality Measurement form.

9. At the conclusion of a survey, a summary of results is conducted by the Director. The teacher provides the Director with copies of the three completed forms so that the students' monitoring data can be uploaded on the Stream Survey Database for future reference by any teacher or student, and for inclusion in the Onondaga County Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program.