Water Quality Sampling Parameters

Nine Basic Tests

Each month we test nine parameters for each stream, river, or lake. This gives us a good way to compare streams and learn how we might best work in each stream’s watershed.

  1. Dissolved Oxygen: How much oxygen is in the water? Enough to support fish and other aquatic life?
  2. Transparency (Water Clarity): Is the water clear or muddy? How clear?
  3. Chloride: Is there salt in the water, which may indicate human or animal waste (perhaps a leaking septic tank)?
  4. Nitrates: Are levels safe? Nitrates are essential to plants, but excess nitrates can have harmful health effects & create water quality problems.
  5. E. Coli BacteriaWill the water make us sick?
  6. Phosphorous: Essential nutrient, but excess from human, animal, and industrial wastes, as well as runoff from fertilized lawns and cropland, can wreck aquatic systems.
  7. Ammonia: Ammonia is toxic to fish and aquatic organisms, even in very low concentrations.
  8. TemperatureIs the water too hot for fish or the aquatic life they feed on? Many chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of a stream are directly affected by water temperature.
  9. pHIs the water unusually acidic or alkaline? pH can influence many chemical and biological processes.

Additional Parameters

At some locations, we are able to collect additional information for an even better understanding of the stream.

  1. Stream FlowHow much water is flowing, and how many tons of the above nutrients is the water carrying at that moment?
  2. Stream Height: Not as precise as stream flow, but useful as a rough estimate.

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