AWSMP Tries Out the W.A.V.E.

Posted on: September 29th, 2017 by Samantha Kahl

The impor­tance of water qual­ity has always been a top pri­or­ity for water­shed res­i­dents and the stream man­age­ment pro­gram as it works with com­mu­ni­ties to man­age streams. So how do we mea­sure the effects of stream man­age­ment on water qual­ity? One method is macroin­ver­te­brate sam­pling. Macroin­ver­te­brates are insects present within our streams that are vis­i­ble to the naked eye: Stone­flies, Mayflies, and Cad­dis­flies, just to name a few!

Recently, AWSMP staff mem­bers Saman­tha Kahl with Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County, and Alli­son Lent, Stream Assess­ment Coor­di­na­tor, and Tiffany Runge, Water­shed Tech­ni­cian with Ulster County Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict (SWCD) got out­side to mon­i­tor aquatic insects and do the WAVE! Actu­ally, it’s W.A.V.E. — Water Assess­ments by Vol­un­teer Eval­u­a­tors. This pro­gram is run by the New York State Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (DEC). Vol­un­teers are trained to take macroin­ver­te­brate sam­ples from streams for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion at the DEC office. This prac­tice helps deter­mine stream seg­ments that are poten­tially impaired (e.g. pol­luted or dis­turbed). Macroin­ver­te­brates are sen­si­tive to water qual­ity, so if pollution-tolerant species are present and oth­ers are not, we may have an impaired stream seg­ment that needs fur­ther mon­i­tor­ing. If a vari­ety of sen­si­tive species are abun­dant, it’s usu­ally a good indi­ca­tor for high water quality.

Case-making Caddisfly larva found attached to a rock in a segment of Woodland Creek.

Case-making Cad­dis­fly larva found attached to a rock in a seg­ment of Wood­land Val­ley Creek.

Our pur­pose of going into the field was to get a sense of the water qual­ity at a poten­tial Wood­land Val­ley Creek restora­tion site. Know­ing the water con­di­tions prior to restora­tion pro­vides a bet­ter sense of how restora­tion efforts affect the stream, allow­ing project man­agers to mit­i­gate future restora­tion projects if need be. Our pur­pose also included test­ing out W.A.V.E. pro­gram sam­pling meth­ods. The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram is inter­ested in start­ing a W.A.V.E. pro­gram for local com­mu­ni­ties to take part in. Feel free to fill out this short sur­vey regard­ing your avail­abil­ity for a poten­tial W.A.V.E. pro­gram start-up; any feed­back is appre­ci­ated! And don’t for­get to check back soon for more event and vol­un­teer infor­ma­tion at our web­site.

Tiffany Runge, Watershed Technician (left), and Allison Lent, Stream Assessment Coordinator (right), of the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District sorting through leaf litter for macroinvertebrate sampling on the banks of Woodland Creek.

Ulster County SWCD’s Tiffany Runge (left) and Alli­son Lent (right) sort through leaf lit­ter look­ing for macroin­ver­te­brates on the banks of Wood­land Val­ley Creek.

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