Volunteers in the Creek All Week
Ioway Creek recently got some love from the community. On Saturday, May 21, a group of seventeen volunteers (plus another four helping on land) loaded nine canoes with trash as we floated from Brookside Park down to S. 16th Street in Ames. We hauled out 14 tires and 1,560 pounds of other trash including 3 shopping carts, a tent, and two bicycles. Assembling the tools, canoes, food, and people was a collaborative effort involving Prairie Rivers of Iowa, the City of Ames, Story County Conservation, the Skunk River Paddlers, and the Outdoor Alliance of Story County. A few people got wet, everyone got dirty, my muscles are still sore, but we all had a good time on the river!
On Tuesday May 17, fourteen volunteers tested water quality in Ioway Creek and its tributaries. This is the fifteenth Spring Watershed Snapshot, and the fourth that Prairie Rivers organized. Thanks to the Outdoor Alliance of Story County for help with supplies. This year, some volunteers were already doing regular monitoring of a site for Story County Conservation and adjusted this month’s schedule to coordinate, or picked up a few extra sites. If we include other watersheds and other days tested during the same week, the count is 22 volunteers (and also some Story County Conservation staff) and 47 sites in Story, Boone, and Hamilton counties.
We scheduled the event for a weekday this year to coincide with Polk County’s snapshot, so while the event was less social than it sometimes is (volunteers could pick up a kit any time on Tuesday and test their assigned sites alone or with a friend), they were monitoring as part of a big coordinated effort of the kind that we haven’t seen since before the IOWATER program was cancelled! In Polk County, 75 people covered 115 sites!
A table with our findings are shown below, and a map of the sites can be found here. On Tuesday, the water was clear and phosphorus was low at all our sites. Chloride was highest and nitrate lowest in creeks with more urban watersheds. Dissolved oxygen fell into the “fair” range at several sites in Hamilton County, as well as the south fork of Worrell Creek in Ames. Nitrate was 10 mg/L or higher at most sites, but reached 20 mg/L in the middle sections of Ioway Creek and several rural tributaries. I did some followup testing to make sense of the high nitrate levels at Duff Ave, more on that later.
Thanks to all the volunteers who spent some time in a creek last week!