The Nanticoke Watershed Alliance held its annual Wade In on June 10 and released the 2016 Nanticoke River Report Card. Both the river and creeks grades dropped to C+, falling from B- and B respectively.
Total nitrogen continues to be the worst indicator, and 2016 was no exception. However, total phosphorus grades broadly dropped, as did chlorophyll a, which indicates runoff pollution and algal blooms. The intense, localized summer storms and more prolonged autumn storms that caused flooding and damaged dams and roads also brought large amounts of rain and runoff info local waterways.
We encourage you to make changes in your home, work, church, community organization, and school landscapes to help reduce the impact of intense rain events, which have increased in this region and are anticipated to continue to increase with climate change.
As of now, we have 100% site coverage for the 2017 season; however, there are still opportunities for new volunteers to be placed with Creekwatcher teams. Our tenth full season will be our best yet! If you’d like more information about the program or to be added to the training mailing list, please contact Beth Wasden.
Thanks to our 2017 program partners: Envirocorp Labs Inc., the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation, Delaware Technical and Community College, RSVP MD Lower Shore, Delaware 50+, Horn Point Lab, and the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science’s Integration and Application Network.
Interested in the Creekwatchers program? You can:
- View our available Creekwatchers sites at Google Maps.
- Read or download the Creekwatchers Position Description.
- Sign up for our volunteer mailing list.
- Download and complete an individual volunteer interest form.
About the Nanticoke Creekwatchers:
The Nanticoke Watershed Alliance’s Creekwatchers Citizen Monitoring Program began in July 2007. The 2007 was a partial pilot season; the program’s first full season began in 2008. The program’s primary goal is to accumulate long-term, scientifically credible data and to monitor the health of the Nanticoke River and the Fishing Bay headwaters. The program’s eighth season will begin in March 2015.
From the beginning, we knew that the program was ambitious. With over 725,000 acres, the Nanticoke and Fishing Bay watersheds encompass five counties in two states. But we wanted to transcend political boundaries and take the “watershed perspective”–after all, water doesn’t know when it passes from one state to the next. And with the generosity of DNREC and the Chesapeake Bay Trust, we became funded to operate in both states. Other funders and in-kind donors have included the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, Rommel’s ACE Hardware, RSVP of Sussex County, Delaware, and the Lower Shore of Maryland.
Over the years, we have worked with a number of partners who provide a degree of rigor and accountability that we would have never been able to achieve on our own. Envirocorp Labs in Harrington, Delaware, donates all testing services. Johns Hopkins University assisted with data management and analytical services during the first couple of years of the program. We’ve received technical training and support from the National Park Service, DNREC, MD DNR, the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science’s Integration and Application Network, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Salisbury University, and Horn Point Labs.
In the past years, this program has surpassed all of our expectations. Creekwatchers monitor 36 sites throughout the watershed (including five in the Fishing Bay headwaters) every other week from late March through early November; their level of engagement and commitment is extraordinary. With the equipment and training provided, volunteers have literally transformed into a team of citizen scientists, going far beyond simple collection of a water sample to actually getting much of the data themselves. Certain parameters – water clarity, dissolved oxygen, salinity, and temperature – are measured on-site using a Secchi disk and other field instruments. Samples are also collected to be analyzed for nutrients and bacteria. Results of this program will help evaluate eutrophication trends and potential hazards to human health. Our volunteer program’s quality assurance plan is the first to receive EPA approval, which says a lot about our volunteers and the thorough nature of this program.
People throughout the watershed have “come out of the woodwork” to donate their time, skills and passion to make our citizen monitoring program what it has become. The fruits of this labor is an annual “Nanticoke River Report Card.” Each season’s data helps us understand the present health of the river, while accumulated data allows us to identify potential trends. We share our data with other organizations, government agencies, and members of the public.
The Nanticoke Creekwatchers Citizen Monitoring Program is one of the keystone efforts of the Alliance – the work of its participants will help define the direction our Alliance goes in the future. We will be able to focus restoration activities and work in conjunction our other keystone initiative, Green Infrastructure, to strengthen our impact and more fully enable us to fulfill our mission to preserve the Nanticoke River.