Ever wondered about the condition of your local creek?
What kinds of fish, aquatic insects, and other critters live there?
Does the water quality pose a health risk for children wading or kayakers paddling?
How much nitrogen and phosphorus is washing downstream to the Gulf?

In some cases, a regulatory agency or university is collecting this information, but with 71,665 miles of rivers and streams in the state, that’s not a given.

Most of what we know about Clear Creek, Worrell Creek, and College Creek in Ames; Montgomery Creek and Prairie Creek in Boone County; Gilbert Creek (Ditch 70) in Gilbert; or Crooked Creek near Stanhope, we know because the efforts of volunteers in the Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition.

For other streams in the area, including West Indian Creek in Nevada, Rock Creek in Maxwell, Middle Minerva Creek in Zearing, and Long Dick Creek near Story City, we have almost no information.

Iowa DNR has had to scale back its role in providing equipment, training, and IT support for volunteer stream monitoring efforts and delegate more of that role to local government and non-profit groups, such as county conservation departments, Prairie Rivers of Iowa, and the Izaak Walton League. That poses a challenge for logistics–we’re still discussing who’s doing what, how we pay for it, and how to manage the data–but also presents an opportunity to integrate citizen science with watershed-based education, outreach, and conservation efforts.

If you’d like to learn more about volunteer stream monitoring on Squaw Creek and its tributaries and how you can get involved, come to an informational meeting next Tuesday at the Ames Public Library.  Or get your feet wet on Saturday May 18 at Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition’s annual spring snapshot!

Citizen Engagement in Water Quality Monitoring
Tuesday, May 7th, 7:15pm – 8:15pm
Ames Public Library Rotary Room