WCCA has a robust program (launched in 2005 with a grant from the Sierra Nevada Alliance) for regularly monitoring the physical and chemical conditions of Wolf Creek at selected sites in order to help us identify areas of concern for various pollutants and describe the watershed conditions which affect the health of the aquatic ecosystem. WCCA is allied with Sierra Streams Institute (SSI) and the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL), who maintain similar water quality monitoring programs. Representatives of the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) oversee all of our monitoring quality assurance plans. The Nevada Irrigation District (NID) provides laboratory and storage facilities for the monitoring program.
In addition to monitoring water quality, our monitors perform ecological assessments of the creek using an established protocol. By monitoring both aquatic and terrestrial conditions at different locations we can learn more about the possible sources of contamination, and identify and prioritize viable restoration, preservation and education projects.
Wolf Creek carries a variety of pollutants, including harmful bacteria, pesticide degradants, and heavy metals. It is beyond WCCA's current ability to monitor some of the pollutants in the creek, but monitoring various indicators of water quality (listed below) provides valuable information on the ecological condition of the creek and its safety for humans. With water monitoring equipment purchased through a grant from the Sierra Nevada Alliance, we are measuring temperature, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH. About 30 volunteer monitors take and test water samples at 20 different sites on a monthly basis.
By monitoring water quality over time we can gauge improvements (or deterioration) in the creek's health. By monitoring at different locations we can learn more about the possible sources of contamination and pinpoint problem spots. Water monitoring also offers our volunteers an opportunity for hands-on involvement with the creek and an opportunity for learning about aquatic ecology, water chemistry, the physical processes of streams, and the importance of careful technique and record-keeping.
Wolf Creek Community Alliance also collects benthic macroinvertebrate samples to gauge water quality. Benthic macroinvertebrates are insects and other arthropods that live on the bed of the stream. Some as are very sensitive to pollution. Other species are more tolerant. Collecting samples yearly provides us with another way of assessing the overall health of the creek and how it is changing over time.
Links to the most recent reports on WCCA's water quality monitoring program:
The links below provide additional information about water quality and WCCA's water quality monitoring program.
For more information about the water quality monitoring program, email Debra Worth at dedneby[at]sbcglobal[dot]net.
Twice every year, our creek monitors walk a section of the creek at their assigned sites to observe and record biological and other indicators of creek and riparian-area health, such as overhead canopy, nearby land use, erosion, and plant types. [further desription of "creek walks" and data collected, perhaps with examples of information collected and the use to which it is put]