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Project Watershed Central New York

Dedicated to facilitating water resource education in Central New York

Project/Task Description

Project/Task Description


Project Watershed CNY/SOS volunteers monitor water quality in several streams in Central New York, primarily Onondaga County.  Sampling started in 1990 in conjunction with the Central New York Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America Save Our Streams (SOS) program.  At this time, volunteers focused solely on biological monitoring and then eventually infused physical and chemical procedures into the SOS program. 


In 1995, Project Watershed CNY/SOS was officially established after receiving a generous gift to purchase a Hach DREL/2000 Portable Water Quality Laboratory and a Hach Portable Bacteriological Membrane/Filtration (M/F) Laboratory.  The program is geared primarily toward high school students.  However, in 1998, the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Fund awarded Project Watershed CNY/SOS with a grant in order to develop an adult volunteer stream monitoring program, the Select A Stream (SAS) program.  The goal of the SAS program is to monitor streams that were not included in the existing program and have been recognized as having long-term problems related to point and nonpoint source pollution. 


Both student and adult volunteers employ several physical and chemical indicators of water quality as well as conduct a benthic macroinvertebrate survey assessment.  Procedures were adopted from the SOS program and Mitchell and Stapp’s text Field Manual for Water Quality Monitoring.  A complete, detailed breakdown of all of the physical, chemical, and biological monitoring and analytical procedures can be found in the  “Project Watershed Central New York/Save Our Streams Study Design: Standard Operating Procedures�?.  A copy of this document can be obtained by contacting a member of the Board of Directors (see contact information on page 3).


Physical monitoring involves measuring stream dimensions (width and depth) and stream flow as well as observing general stream characteristics such as water appearance, odor, streambed composition, stream stability, algae color-texture-amount, and stream bank cover.


Currently, Project Watershed CNY/SOS monitors nine chemical water quality parameters including:

· Dissolved oxygen (DO)

· Fecal coliform

· pH

· Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD)

· Reactive phosphate (PO4)-3

· Nitrate (NO3)-

· Chloride (Cl)-

· Turbidity

· Total dissolved solids (TDS)


These parameters were chosen and adapted from the nine tests outlined in the Field Manual for Water Quality Monitoring (Mitchell and Stapp, 1997) in order to develop an overall Water Quality Index (WQI).  However, there are three exceptions.  Project Watershed tests for reactive rather than total phosphate, tests for total dissolved solids rather then total solids, and tests for chloride levels in place of monitoring temperature change as discussed in Mitchell and Stapp’s text.  Fecal coliform testing is also included in the chemical parameters for matters of convenience and to develop a complete WQI. 


Project Watershed CNY/SOS uses biological monitoring methodologies developed by the Izaak Walton League of America Save Our Streams Program.  Volunteers follow the methods outlined in the “Quality Survey Instructions�? section of the Save Our Streams Monitor’s Guide to Aquatic Macroinvertebrates (Kellogg, 1994).


The following table provides the stream names and corresponding sampling locations where volunteer teachers, students, and adults conduct monitoring activities. These sites are monitored twice a year.  See the map of stream monitoring sites included in the Project Watershed CNY/SOS Study Design: SOPs.


Monitoring sites

Monitoring Sites now include Oneida Creek, Cowaselon Creek, Canaseraga Creek in Madison County as well.

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