Citizens to Assess Water Quality in Rock River Basin

by Free Speech on May 1, 2009

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI-4/30/09

Wisconsin’s towns, roads and public safety weren’t the only things jeopardized by last spring’s massive rains and flooding. The state’s water quality was also impaired.

“The storms that came through southern Wisconsin caused major water quality problems –from the wastewater treatment plants that were unable to manage the volume of water coming to them resulting in allowing sewage to pass through untreated, to erosion of banks and runoff that brought sediment into streams and rivers in great quantities,” said Kris Stepenuck, volunteer stream monitoring coordinator for the University of Wisconsin-Extension and the Department of Natural Resources. “We could see the effects of those storms on our waters in many locations.”

This year in the Rock River Basin, which covers all or portions of Dane, Rock, Walworth, Waukesha, Jefferson, Fond du Lac, Columbia, Green Lake and Dodge Counties, citizens will have a unique opportunity to take part in a one day “snapshot” monitoring event on June 13. The event offers an opportunity to get an idea of what the water quality is like across the Basin on that day. As many citizen monitors as possible are being sought to participate at the event which will take place between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

People who participate in the Snapshot Day must be trained as monitors in advance. Trainings are being offered throughout the Rock River Basin on Saturdays beginning on April 25 and continuing until mid-May in Cross Plains, Fitchburg, Verona, Waterville, Evansville, and Lodi. For a complete listing of the trainings go to: http://watermonitoring.uwex.edu/wav/events.html

Trainings last about five hours. In addition to learning how to monitor certain physical and chemical aspects of stream health, citizen volunteers also learn to collect samples of the insects and other invertebrates living in rocky areas, under banks and in weed beds. By finding crayfish, mayflies, clams and other invertebrates, then identifying them using a simple form, citizens can tell whether the water quality is good, fair or poor.

“We hear a lot about going green these days,” said Rock River Coalition monitoring coordinator Ed Grunden. “Environmental stewardship begins with the people and works its way up to the federal government level. ‘Snapshot Day’ is an opportunity for us to get involved in the stewardship of Wisconsin rivers. Preserving our waterways begins with us. I encourage everyone to become involved in preserving clean water for the next generation.”

A report based on findings from the Snapshot Day will provide a glimpse of water quality in the Rock River Basin that will be shared with local officials, DNR biologists and citizens.

Those who participate in the Snapshot Day are also invited to continue monitoring stream sites on a monthly basis between spring and late fall. Such continued monitoring helps build a long-term picture of water quality in the area over time. This can help with finding areas of concern, prioritizing areas for restoration, or assessing changes in water quality over time.

“The more citizens we have who understand how we affect water quality and who can help assess it, the better able we will be to protect and restore areas in the future,” said Stepenuck.

For more information about this program contact Kris Stepenuck at 608-265-3887 or kris.stepenuck@ces.uwex.edu. To learn more about the Rock River Snapshot Day contact Ed Grunden at ed@rockrivercoalition.org or 920-253-9673.

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