What is Stream Monitoring?

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Stream monitoring is an important stewardship project conducted by citizen environmental groups across Virginia and the US.  Stream monitors collect data on the quality of a stream and the aquatic life in the stream, and use that data to assess the health of the stream.

The Federal Clean Water Act and Virginia state law requires the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to monitor the quality of all streams in the state.  They assess physical and chemical parameters, bacteriological quality, stream habitat, and aquatic life in these waters.

The primary focus of the FOMR stream monitoring project is Benthic macroinvertebrates,  the aquatic insects (such as mayflies), crustaceans (such as crayfish), and mollusks (such as clams) that are part of the food chain in streams.  Some of these organisms are more sensitive to pollution than others. The type and numbers of organisms found in a stream can be used to measure the suitability of the stream for aquatic life based on guidelines provided by EPA and the state.

Monitoring the aquatic insects takes place three times per year –  spring, summer and fall.  It is done in teams of Certified and  novice monitors at each site.  The monitors are certified by and follow a monitoring protocol established by the VA Save Our Streams (SOS) program for citizen groups.  That protocol and our collected data are recognized by VA DEQ.