Stream Monitoring

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The Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) provides small start-up grants to entities wanting to establish a volunteer stream monitoring program. We applied in 2014 and received a full start-up award, creating our volunteer Stream Team.

Each spring and fall, we monitor eight sites along the Escanaba River, looking for macroinvertebrates that indicate the water quality and habitat availability at that site. Though the grant has ended, it allowed us to purchase necessary supplies and establish a solid base of volunteers to continue the monitoring into the future. These findings are important in considering care and quality of a local watershed. Now that the two-year funded project is finished, it is up to a volunteer base to continue the monitoring of these sites, and we truly appreciate our Stream Team volunteers!

Stream Monitoring Assessments

Macro invertebrates as Bioindicators

Bioindicators are life forms that indicate the quality of a particular habitat. Stream monitoring involves using nets to collect samples from the sediment of a stream, and then sorting and identifying the macroinvertebrates found. Macroinvertebrates are insects in their nymph and larval stage, and are valuable as indicators of water quality. High quality streams will result in higher quantities of macroinvertebrates, and certain species are only tolerant to pollution-free water, so their presence indicates a clean habitat. Some of these species include dragonfly, stonefly, caddisfly, and blackfly larvae, among many other species. Some of these species are very sensitive to environmental changes, while others are quite tolerant.

Quality Scoring

​Each macroinvertebrate we find has a specific value assigned to it, which we use to score the stream. The stream’s score corresponds to the overall health of the stream, and scores range from 1-10, with 10 being severely polluted, and a 1 indicating a stream in excellent health. To see how the sites we monitor have rated over the years of sampling, please head to the MiCorps webpage!

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