Elisabeth Cianciola, CRWA Aquatic Scientist
WESTON – Despite gloomy skies, volunteers from across the Charles River Watershed and beyond gathered on Saturday, June 23rd to learn how to collect benthic macroinvertebrates and assess stream habitat as part of CRWA's volunteer biological water quality monitoring program. Now in its sixth year, the biological water quality monitoring program welcomes volunteers of all ages and abilities to help CRWA track changes in water quality over time.
Although one of Executive Director Bob Zimmerman's first priorities was to get CRWA's volunteers to monitor chemical water quality starting in 1995, water quality is much more complex than measuring water temperature or counting the number of bacteria that are present. To better represent CRWA's holistic view of water quality and watershed management, we developed a protocol for monitoring biological indicators of water quality, such as streambank vegetation and the diversity and abundance of organisms that live on the stream bottom, including worms, snails, clams, and insects. Our science staff have been training new cohorts of volunteers to collect these data every summer since 2013. This year, we saw scuds, or side-swimmers, aquatic sowbugs, and blackfly larvae in Cheesecake Brook in Newton. Volunteers who were trained on June 23rd will be conducting water quality monitoring throughout the summer. Space is still available; anyone interested in volunteering should contact CRWA's Rita Barron Fellow, Lisa Kumpf at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have been especially excited to have the opportunity to engage with school groups in this work. We are deeply grateful to Dr. Lisa Lobel for adopting our monitoring site on the Muddy River in Boston with her students at Wheelock College and look forward to working with students from Simmons College and UMass Boston this year. To read more about CRWA's collaboration with Wheelock College, please visit the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement's website.