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Project Watershed Central New York

Dedicated to facilitating water resource education in Central New York

What We Do

What We Do

The Project Watershed Consortium and Board offer participating teachers, their students and adult volunteers:

  • The Save Our Streams Program for monitoring physical, chemical and biological quality of water in regional streams through a series of on-site tests and measurements.
  • A water quality database on the Internet for uploading students' and adult   teams' collected stream monitoring measurements and observations for   review, analysis and interpretation by project participants and by interested   citizens.
  • In 1998, the Onondaga County Council on Environmental Health decreed that the Project Watershed database be included in the County's Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program. Since then, our database has been a source of information for Onondaga County’s annual Water Quality Strategy document. Project Watershed now has the largest publicly-accessible volunteer stream monitoring database in NYS.

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 Resources.)

2. The Program Director meets the teacher and student group at the stream site with the stream monitoring equipment. He is usually 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 four (4) Field Data Survey Forms and macroinvertebrate identification guide sheets.

4. The teacher is responsible for recording the heading information 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. Stream flow (discharge) is estimated and measured by the Physical Team. First, a transect is placed across the stream to measure the stream's cross sectional area at that site. Students then conduct float time trials to compute the stream's average velocity in feet per second.The stream's discharge in cubic feet per second is the product of the average velocity and the measured transectional area. All data are recorded on the Physical Measurement: Stream Flow section of the Field Data Survey form.

In addition to the manual measurement of discharge, students under the supervision of the Director determine the average velocity using an electronic Flow Rate Sensor. Data are recorded on the Stream Discharge Measurement with Flow Meter form.

7. Members of the Chemical Team obtain a water sample and perform, under the Director's supervision, seven of the nine water quality measurements listed on the Chemical Water Quality Measurements form. Safety goggles and disposable vinyl gloves are provided and required. The three-day fecal coliform count is completed by the Director at his home. The B.O.D. test is completed after five days by the Director, and the results of both procedures are forwarded to the teacher. When all nine test measurements have been recorded, the teacher determines the Chemical Overall Water Quality Index, by using the aforementioned Field Manual for Water Quality Monitoring. (The fecal coliform count is biological, not chemical, 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). 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 for the students. The teacher provides the Director with copies of the four completed forms so that the students' monitoring data can be uploaded on the database.