Our Stream Team program, a partnership with the St. Clair County Health Department, empowers residents to protect local streams by monitoring its health. Volunteers that join our stream monitoring program are helping us understand the health of the streams, creeks, and rivers that feed the St. Clair River. In September 2008 we received our first Michigan Clean Water Corp grant and launched our Stream Leaders Volunteer Monitoring Program at seven stream sites. Today we are monitoring up to twelve sites.
Twice a year, under a Certified Leader's instruction, volunteers meet at an assigned stream and collect macroinvertebrates, or "bugs" that live in the water. Depending on the types of bugs we find we can tell if the waterway is in “poor”, “fair”, “good” or “excellent” condition. These scores help us track the health of a waterway over time and give clues as to which areas need improvement or protection.
Aquatic macroinvertebrates provide us with lots of information about our streams and creeks; they are like windows to the health of a stream. Species that are sensitive to pollution, like mayfly, stonefly and caddisfly larvae, prefer cool streams with high oxygen content – all qualities of a healthy stream. The species that tolerate higher amounts of pollution such as leeches, aquatic worms and water striders indicate potential problems in the water.
Sound like fun? It is! The heart of our water quality monitoring program is YOU! We can’t do it alone. Government agencies don’t have the staff or funds to continuously monitor each body of water. That’s where you can help by getting involved on the Stream Team. No experience is necessary and all the equipment are provided. Please contact Melissa Kivel, Education Manager, email@example.com.