Water Quality Monitoring

Water Watchers Citizen Aquatic Monitoring Program

Several areas along Peak Creek and its tributaries are now being monitored as part of the New River Conservancy’s Water Watchers Citizen Aquatic Monitoring Program. FOPC partnered with the Conservancy by coordinating their first training session in Virginia in 2018 and continue to facilitate annual training and re-certification workshops within the region.

The basic parameters tested include dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, E.coli and turbidity. Overall, the collection of data will help foster good stewardship of environmental resources while providing early warning signs of problems resulting from inadequate stormwater management, sedimentation, sewage contamination and other potential water quality problems. Find out more about the water quality monitoring at the New River Conservancy.

Save Our Streams

The Friends of Peak Creek began stream quality monitoring in 2014 and posting the results on the Virginia Save Our Streams (VASOS) database. FOPC members Sandy and John Randolph are certified stream monitors and Master Naturalists. With the help of recorder Ron Hall, they monitor Peak Creek at Heritage Park in the Town of Pulaski.

The monitoring is an ecological assessment that nets bottom dwelling macro-invertebrate organisms from the water using a standardized collection method. The organisms caught are identified and counted. The numerical distribution of species indicates the ecological integrity and long-term quality of the creek water. For example, some species are highly tolerant of poor water quality (e.g., worms, leeches, scuds). Others are intolerant (e.g., larvae of mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies).

The higher the proportion of tolerant species indicates poor water quality. The higher the proportion of intolerant species indicates good water quality. The organism counts are used to calculate an ecological index score on a 14-point scale, in which 1-7 are unacceptable, 8 is borderline, and 9-14 are acceptable ecological integrity.

Monitoring events are conducted on a quarterly basis. If you are interested in learning more about stream monitoring go to VA Save Our Streams or the site at NRV Master Naturalist.

Winter Salt Watch

While road salts keep us safe on roads and sidewalks it can also pose a risk to water life. Each stream or river located near a roadway is at risk for chloride concentration increases due to road salts. These increases make survival difficult for fish, amphibians, macro invertebrates, and other organisms that rely on waterways as a primary habitat. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies chloride concentrations of 230 ppm or greater as dangerous to aquatic life. FOPC began monitoring the chloride level in Peak Creek in November 2018 using the Izaak Walton League’s Winter Salt Watch protocol.