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Project Watershed Central New York

Dedicated to facilitating water resource education in Central New York

1. Introduction

The purpose of this report is to document the procedures utilized by Project Watershed Central New York/Save Our Streams (CNY/SOS) for physical, chemical, and biological testing and monitoring. Descriptions of all measurements, methodologies, and testing equipment used by the Consortium will be provided so that sampling and data collection procedures will remain consistent over time. Written guidance allows participants to follow and replicate sampling procedures previously used to ensure quality control and good-quality data.

Purpose of Monitoring/Quality Objectives

Stream monitoring is an important tool that helps to educate individuals about what is happening in their watershed. Monitoring streams helps to develop a sense of citizen stewardship for water resources. Project Watershed is dedicated to facilitating water resource education in Central New York, and in turn, promoting citizen awareness about the potential threats to water quality and the importance of monitoring. Project Watershed provides volunteers with access to programs, equipment, training, and a growing on-line database. This database allows individuals to view and compare water quality in several streams across Central New York.

Stream monitoring can be useful to establish baseline data. Over time, these data will help to reveal any trends in water quality throughout the watershed. Monitoring data can also be useful to local regulatory and/or assessment programs. Currently Onondaga County's Council on Environmental Health is utilizing data collected by Project Watershed for the county's Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program. The data is also being utilized to improve the county's Water Quality Strategy Report.

Monitoring Sites

Currently, Project Watershed volunteers monitor at sampling sites along fifteen streams in Central New York: Tanner Brook, Friendship Woods Creek, Skaneateles Creek, Nine Mile Creek, Geddes Brook, Harbor Brook, Furnace Brook, Onondaga Creek, Ley Creek, Beartrap Creek, Butternut Creek, Limestone Creek, Fabius Brook, Trout Brook, Chittenango Creek, Carpenter’s Brook, Canaserga Creek, Cowlaselon Creek, Tiourgnioga Creek, Oneida Creek, Mad River, East Branch Fish Creek and Scriba Creek. See Appendix 1 for a map of stream monitoring sites in Central New York. At each site, a physical survey is conducted and chemical and biological water quality measurements are obtained. The number of sites that are monitored each year change due to variations in the level of participation from local high schools and adult stream teams.

Monitoring Participants

Stream monitoring efforts via high school volunteers began in 1991. There are currently seventeen high school groups and five adult teams participating in Project Watershed/Save Our Streams monitoring activities in Central New York. The Consortium is working on involving two additional high schools this spring. The following high schools are currently actively involved in Project Water Shed:
•    Baker High School
•    Bishop Ludden High School
•    Camden High School
•    Canastota High School
•    Cazenovia High School
•    Central Square Middle School
•    Chittenango High School
•    Corcoran High School
•    Deruyter Junior/Senior High School
•    East Syracuse-Minoa High School
•    Fabius Pompey High School
•    Fayetteville Manlius High School
•    Fowler High School
•    Henninger High School
•    Jordan Elbridge High School
•    Liverpool High School
•    Manlius Pebble Hill School
•    Marcellus High School
•    McGraw Junior/Senior High School
•    Oneida High School
•    Onondaga Junior/Senior High School
•    Skaneateles High School
•    Tully Junior/Senior High School
•    West Genesee High School
•    Westhill High School

Adult Volunteers/Select A Stream Program

The Adult Stream Teams, part of the Project Watershed/Select-A-Stream program, monitor stream sites that are not included in the current Project Watershed Central New York/Save Our Streams program: Beartrap, Butternut, Ley, Limestone, Onondaga, Nine Mile, and Skaneateles Creeks. This part of the program was initiated in 1999. These streams have been identified as having long-term problems associated with point and nonpoint source pollution. The adult stream teams monitor the same physical, chemical, and biological parameters as the student volunteers. Adult volunteers must go through a training session in order to learn the Save Our Streams physical, chemical, and biological procedures. Six adult volunteer “Teams” ranging in size from three to five individuals conduct annually four surveys on each of these streams.

Board of Directors

The core of Project Watershed is its Board of Directors. The members of the Board are each associated with various educational, industrial, and governmental institutions. Currently, there are twelve members on the Board of Directors. The Board meets on a bimonthly basis to discuss past activities, the group's progress, and future endeavors. The Director has the greatest amount of involvement with the project. The responsibilities of the Director include:

Monitoring Activities

•    Promote, plan and schedule stream surveys for students with teachers every spring and fall
•    Procure adult volunteer(s) to assist students with their activities
•    Orient students to Save Our Streams monitoring procedures at stream site or prior to survey in class
•    Coordinate with teachers to provide a safe monitoring experience for students
•    Calibrate instruments prior to stream survey
•    Load and transport equipment and supplies to stream site
•    Provide teachers with survey forms and physical/biological monitoring equipment
•    Supervise students performing chemical tests
•    Summarize water quality data collected with students at conclusion of survey
•    Perform BOD test and fecal coliform count; report results to teacher
•    Unload, inspect and clean all glassware and equipment
•    Complete survey forms for data upload on Project Water Shed database
•    Assist the SAS and POLW directors with their programs in the field as necessary

Quality Control

•     Maintain/update quality assurance/quality control monitoring procedures written in the QA/QC Control Project Plan and Study Design: Standard Operating Procedures documents
•    Oversee standard solution testing for the three Project Water Shed programs
•    Arrange for split sample sampling for chemical tests and fecal coliform counting


•    Maintain DREL and Membrane Filtration portable laboratories
•    Conduct periodic inventory and process orders for supplies and equipment


•    Direct bi-monthly board meeting: prepare agenda and financial report; write summary reports
•    Write and/or review grant proposals
•    Assist in update/upgrade of Project Watershed web site and database managed by Living SchoolBook
•    Arrange training experiences for teachers and adult teams
•    Inform teachers about monitoring related educational materials
•    Inform participant teachers, students and the public about Project Watershed mission and activities
•    Promote the Project Watershed model with environmentally oriented groups through presentations, field experiences

Monitoring Schedule

High school volunteer groups monitor streams twice a year in the spring and fall; one school does conduct winter monitoring. The adult stream teams monitor selected streams on a bimonthly basis, April through October. The Director keeps a calendar with all scheduled monitoring trips noted on it. There is no set time of day when the monitoring is conducted.

Monitoring Preparation

The day of the monitoring trip, the director is responsible for preparing and calibrating all of the equipment that will be utilized later in the day. Procedures for equipment calibration will be discussed in the Chemical Water Quality Measurements section of this report. The director is also responsible for transporting all the equipment to the sampling site.

At the sampling site, the Director gives a brief orientation about the mission of Project Watershed CNY/SOS and the importance of stream monitoring. The Director mentions the Project Watershed website and the on-line database. Additionally, the Director also introduces and discusses the concepts of a watershed, water quality, and non-point source pollution. Following the orientation discussion, the teacher or director divides the group into two teams for physical/biological and chemical monitoring. The teacher is primarily responsible for overseeing the physical and biological monitoring activities. The Director is responsible for overseeing the chemical testing.

Data Management

The teacher or adult team leader is responsible for completing all of the project survey forms (physical, chemical, and biological) and providing a copy for the Director. The Director reviews all of the forms and makes sure the entries are within correct ranges and that there are no nonsensical readings (i.e. pH of 16). Once the Director has finished reviewing the forms, they are forwarded to the Data Manager who also reviews the information on the forms. The Data Manager then uploads the volunteer stream survey information onto the Project Watershed database. The Data Manager is responsible for making sure the database is maintained.

The database software currently being utilized by Project Water Shed CNY/SOS is File Maker Pro®. This database type was chosen because it is a good introductory program that is user friendly. The system is also easy to set up as well as maintain. The database is checked on a daily basis to ensure the system is working properly.

Information and monitoring data can be viewed at the Consortium's web sites: site)

Spelling Tioughnioga

The monitoring done near Deruyter is on Tioughnioga Creek. It is spelled incorrectly In the "Monitoring Sites" portion of the introduction.

Data Management section

suggest change "Project Water Shed" to "Project Watershed"

Monitoring Schedule

Suggest changing "one school does conduct winter monitoring" to "one school conducts winter monitoring as well"

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