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The Nanticoke Watershed Alliance is now recruiting volunteer Nanticoke Creekwatchers for the 2015 monitoring season. This will be the eighth season of the bi-state, award-winning citizen water monitoring program. Since the program’s inception, over 90 citizen scientists have participated, acting as the eyes and ears of the river and its connected waterways.
Every other week from late March through early November, Nanticoke Creekwatchers visit their adopted sites, make observations about the sites and weather conditions, take measurements, and obtain three water samples that are processed by Envirocorp Labs Inc. (nutrients and bacteria) and Horn Point Lab (chlorophyll a). The Nanticoke Watershed Alliance (NWA) provides training, equipment, and on-going support for volunteers.
Envirocorp is a key program partner and provides $70,000 in free lab analyses each year. Other 2015 program partners include the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science’s Integration and Application Network, Town Creek Foundation, Salisbury University’s Bacterial Source Tracking Lab, Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth, and Rommel Outdoors.
“Nanticoke Creekwatchers provide a critical service to the community by collecting water quality data and helping us build a long-term dataset,” said Beth Wasden, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator at the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance. “This data allows us to observe trends and helps us target areas and issues of concern, such as high bacteria counts.” The NWA and Salisbury University’s Bacterial Source Tracking Lab will be conducting a limited tracking project during summer 2015 to help determine the cause of these high counts at three sites along the mainstem of the river
Beyond providing local residents and visitors with information about water quality through in-season data maps and annual report cards, the volunteer-driven program also helps guide the NWA’s greater efforts in the watershed. The 2014 Nanticoke River Report Card will be released in July 2015 and will examine dissolved oxygen, water clarity, total nitrogen, total phosphorus, chlorophyll a, and bacteria data from the 2014 season.
The 2015 season will officially begin with the Annual Training and Season Kickoff on Saturday, March 21, which will be held at the Trap Pond State Park Baldcypress Nature Center in Laurel, DE. Creekwatchers must attend this training or an alternate training session, which will be determined according to demand. Training will give insight into the Creekwatchers program and its history and water quality issues and indicators. In addition, the March 21 session will cover the program’s water quality monitoring protocol and will offer an opportunity for volunteers to role-play a typical Creekwatchers experience and to use equipment on the water.
In preparation for the 2015 season, the program specifically seeks volunteers to cover sites in the Seaford area, on the lower Marshyhope Creek near Sharptown, and the upper Marshyhope Creek near Federalsburg. However, the NWA invites anyone interested in volunteering as a Nanticoke Creekwatcher to contact Ms. Wasden in order to obtain more information about the program and to register for training. Ms. Wasden may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 443.944.1175.