Introduction | The Participants | The Investigation

Purpose of this CD

This Onondaga Watershed Database Inquiry project proposal was submitted to the Onondaga Lake Partnership Mini-grants Program last fall to fund another dimension for the Project Watershed stream monitoring program. Since 1995, our students and adult volunteers have been contributing to the largest publicly-accessible volunteer stream monitoring database in New York State, managed by Syracuse University's Living SchoolBook. In the Onondaga Lake watershed, Project Watershed students monitor Nine Mile Creek, Onondaga Creek, Harbor Brook and Furnace Brook, and adult volunteers monitor Ley Creek, Onondaga Creek, Nine Mile Creek and Beartrap Creek. Since 1990, the students and their teacher were not assigned these tributaries by design; rather, they selected or adopted them based on the streams' proximity to their schools or their motivation to learn about the waterbodies. In 1999, the adult volunteers were assigned to their four compromised streams to complement the students' monitoring work.

Now, Project Watershed must look beyond the results of the collected physical, chemical and biological water quality tests and measurements to investigate the impact of human activity on aquatic and riparian habitats along these seven tributaries. What do these water quality data tell us about the impact of land use practices on these habitats?

The data interpreted for this habitat investigation were collected by high school students and adult volunteers, not water quality professionals. Project Watershed is an educational program. There are several deficiencies in the development of the database: stream flow is measured manually without a velocity meter; macroinvertebrate measurements are quantitatively deficient; and chloride testing began in 1998, not 1995. Nevertheless, the two portable chemical/physical laboratories used by students and adults are second to none. Further, the 182 Onondaga Lake watershed stream surveys conducted by Project Watershed volunteers did follow Study Design and Quality Assurance/Quality Control documents including instrument calibration, standards testing and split sample testing.

Although Project Watershed is a volunteer endeavor, these students, teachers and adult volunteers under the direction of Living SchoolBook have worked hard to cooperatively achieve the objectives of the Onondaga Watershed Database Inquiry project; and they should have substantially increased their awareness and knowledge of the watershed's habitat and the impact of human enterprise. Hopefully, this CD will help our citizens restore, protect and/or enhance the habitat associated with Onondaga Lake and watershed.