Ever wonder who monitors the quality of our streams and rivers? The Rock River Coalition, celebrating its 20th anniversary, plays a critical role through its extensive stream monitoring program in south central Wisconsin.
The Coalition works together with state agencies, county land and water conservation departments, as well as nonprofit organizations throughout the Rock River Basin, to ensure that critical stream sites have a volunteer stream monitor.
As Earth Day approaches this April, it is appropriate to recall that founder Gov. Gaylord Nelson called citizens to stewardship — to take action and personal responsibility toward the quality of our land, air and water. The Coalition celebrates this ideal and trains anyone interested in water-quality monitoring to accurately measure and report stream water data.
"As a volunteer stream monitor, you will measure water temperature, assess water clarity, test dissolved oxygen levels, estimate stream flow and — most fun of all — identify aquatic insects," said Nancy Sheehan, stream monitoring coordinator for the Coalition. "Just bring your curiosity and a willingness to spend about two hours by a stream once a month from April through October".
Volunteers learn how to use state standardized methods and equipment for use in the field. Training workshops begin this month. Contact Nancy Sheehan at (608) 515.9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or register online at www.rockrivercoalition.org to join a workshop.
How extensive is the Coalition's stream monitoring program in the Rock River Basin? The Coalition has 105 trained volunteers to monitor more than 80 sites spread over ten counties in south central Wisconsin. The basin consists of the Rock River and all its tributaries, with 3,900 total river miles in its 3,777 square miles of land.
The quality of the water in this interconnected web of rivers, streams and lakes is directly impacted by pollutants entering the system, significantly affecting wildlife ecosystems, our communities, recreational opportunities and economies. That's why the Rock River Coalition's data collection plays such a vital role to the region; the information is used to assess the baseline status of the water, make recovery plans and measure the effectiveness of those initiatives.
In celebration of its 20th Anniversary, the Rock River Coalition will engage in monthly events, connecting communities and people to rivers and streams.
This month, with the celebration of Earth Day, the Coalition will focus on student involvement by participating in UW-Whitewater's EcoFair on April 23 at the Whitewater campus. Coalition representatives will engage students in a conversation about the importance of healthy streams and rivers, and encourage participation in stream monitoring projects in the area. By introducing water stewardship through practical field work, volunteers form a bond to natural resources that can continue throughout their lives.
Visit the Rock River Coalition web site, www.rockrivercoalition.org, for monthly 20th anniversary events, including stream clean-up days, a water tour on Rock Lake and participation in the Lake Ripley Fair and Yahara Riverfest.