Taking a snapshot of water health | SierraSun.com

Taking a snapshot of water health

An army of volunteers will converge on creeks, rivers and lakes in the Truckee and North Tahoe area on Saturday to come away with a snapshot of the health of area waterways.

Snapshot Day, now in its sixth year, will analyze data from the Truckee River and its tributaries as well as Lake Tahoe and its inlets.

The event is scheduled every year as warm temperatures gorge rivers with melting snow.

“We do it every year to try to catch the peak runoff from the snow melt,” said Leslie Allen, with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

Volunteers check temperatures, dissolved oxygen levels, acidity and turbidity. Samples will be sent to a lab to analyze bacteria content.

“When you get that peak runoff, you get good data on how much sediment there is,” said Beth Christman, of the Truckee River Watershed Council.

This year, like last Snapshot Day, organizers calculated the peak period of runoff almost perfectly, as Saturday is expected to bring high river levels.

Most of the rivers around Truckee show a pretty healthy river system, aside from the usual sediment, Christman said.

“The good news is most of the streams in the middle Truckee [River Watershed] come out pretty clean,” she said.

After six years of collecting the same information, researchers are expecting to spot water quality trends in the information this year.

“It’s definitely why we’re doing this, to get a long-term database going,” Christman said.

The volunteer day is the only time that the condition of the watershed is examined simultaneously from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake.

This year volunteers will be headed to waters that have been known to register concerning water samples in the past, said Allen.

“The streams that we know are clean, we are not going to them to check them,” she said.

Around Truckee, volunteers will check Martis Creek, Trout Creek and Gray Creek, among others. Along Tahoe, a stretch of watershed from Quail Lake Creek to Slaughterhouse Creekwill be examined, Allen said.

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