Want to download or view Creekwatchers data? Check out the Chesapeake Explorer website, which is part of the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative. Our program data from 2017 to 2021 are currently available, and we’ll be adding the 2022 data in early 2023.
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 to monitor the health of the Nanticoke River and the Fishing Bay headwaters. In 2017, the program obtained Tier 3 certification of its methodology, which means that data can be used for management and policy decisions by state and federal agencies.
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. (We monitored four headwater sites in the Fishing Bay watershed from 2008-2021.) 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. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) have supported this program since the very beginning, and we thank them and the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative for their on-going support.
During the first fifteen years of the Nanticoke Creekwatchers Program, we’ve hit some important milestones. Creekwatchers monitor 31 sites throughout the watershed 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 community scientists, going far beyond the simple collection of a water sample to actually measuring much of the data themselves. Certain parameters – water clarity, dissolved oxygen, salinity or conductivity, pH, and temperature – are measured on-site using a Secchi disk and other field instruments. Samples are also collected that our partner labs analyze for nutrients and chlorophyll a. Results of this program will help evaluate trends and potential hazards to human health. Our program’s quality assurance plan was the first to receive EPA approval in the Chesapeake Bay region, which says a lot about our volunteers and the thorough nature of this program. Since then, we have achieved Tier 3 approval under the Chesapeake Bay Program via the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative.
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 and to create programs that target specific needs. We share our data with other organizations, government agencies, and members of the public.
The Nanticoke Creekwatchers Program is one of the keystone efforts of the NWA– the work of its participants will help define the direction our NWAgoes in the future. We will be able to focus restoration activities and work to strengthen our impact and more fully enable us to fulfill our mission to preserve the Nanticoke River.
To learn more about the program or to become a Creekwatcher, contact Beth Wasden, Deputy Director.