Loudoun Wildlife’s Stream Team recently launched a new monthly chemical monitoring program, which currently focuses on three sites on Tuscarora Creek and one site on Town Branch. All of these are also benthic macroinvertebrate monitoring sites. By combining chemical and biological data, we hope to have a more holistic understanding of the health of these four consecutive streams sites.
The program will monitor a variety of indicators including temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, water clarity, phosphate, nitrate, chloride and conductivity. Our monthly stream monitoring newsletter will have a new “Chem Corner” feature to learn more about a different indicator each month.
In August, seven of our Chem Crew volunteers received training and certification from the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s RiverTrends program. In September, the Chem Crew collected the first round of chemical data at each of the four stream sites — which thankfully still had running water after the recent drought. This first round of data will help form a baseline of what is normal for each site and allow us to track changes over time.
Our data will be sent to the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and be made available on the Chesapeake Data Explorer. Additionally, our chloride and nitrate data will be sent to the Izaak Walton League of America and will be made available on their nationwide Salt Watch and Nitrate Watch maps, as well as the Clean Water Hub.
We are grateful to RiverTrends for providing equipment to monitor temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and water clarity; and to the Izaak Walton League of America’s Salt Watch and Nitrate Watch programs for providing us with chloride and nitrate testing strips for this project. Thanks also to The Branch – Restaurant and Bowling for allowing us to establish a chemical and benthic macroinvertebrate monitoring site on their property.