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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