Learning more about Seneca Creek water monitoring

Now that we know our wetland area serves as a “Liver for the River,” Kump Center volunteers are anxious to learn more about water quality measures. Pam Byrne and Jane Birdsong, Trout Unlimited members, included me on a water monitoring adventure along Seneca Creek on White’s Run Road near Onego April 19.

It was one of those magical mornings when Bloodroot and wild Hepatica bloomed along the road side. The water was alive with tiny Mayflies, and a West Virginia white butterfly flitted across the surface of the shining stream. What a wonderful West Virginia wrinkle in time.

The WV-VA Water Quality Monitoring Program is a partnership of West Virginia Trout Unlimited, and West Virginia Rivers Coalition made possible by the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation. Jamie Holmes is an AmeriCorps Volunteer and Water Quality Monitoring Coordinator. She gave a quick review of the testing techniques we needed to use while we waited for the rest of our group to arrive.

First she warned us that Didymo, an invasive algae, had entered both Seneca Creek and White’s Run. It looks like brown scum on the surface of river rocks. We should wash our boots with bleach before entering another stream to avoid spreading Didymo.

Then the volunteers pulled out their Trout Unlimited kits, and the monitoring began.

Stream Size: We recorded 24.8′ width using a reel measuring tape stretched across the stream and depths with a calibrated stick dipped to the bottom at each foot along the tape.

Temperature: A digital thermometer reading was 63 air temp. and 57 water temp.

Conductivity: A digital TRACER is used to measure the ability of the water to carry electricity. Conductivity is high where inorganic dissolved solids are in the water; but in distilled water conductivity is 0.53. Seneca Creek registers 1.54 for water conductivity.

Turbidity: A 4′ clear plastic calibrated cylinder is used to look down and see how many inches of water obscure the image of the monitoring disk with a black and white design at the bottom of the cylinder. Muddy water is turbid, but we saw through the creek water.

pH Factor: The acid/base (or alkaline) quality of water is measured on a 14 point pH scale using a dip stick and chart.. Less than 7 is acidic, and more than 7 is alkaline. Pure water is 7, but Seneca Creek is 5.57 and that seemed to be acceptable.

All is well in along the trout streams we monitored except for the Didymo algae.