Training for stream monitoring to begin | SierraSun.com

Training for stream monitoring to begin

Patrick McCartney
Sierra Sun

The volunteers who attended an introductory meeting this week for a new Adopt A Stream program were a diverse lot with a single aim ” to monitor the health of streams in the Truckee River watershed.

More than two dozen area residents turned out on a snowy evening Tuesday for a first look at the ambitious project sponsored by the Truckee River Watershed Council. Their numbers included serious anglers, a Boy Scout leader, newspaper editors and several volunteers with post-graduate degrees in earth sciences.

“You guys are going to be the watchdogs of the watershed,” Shasta Ferranto of the Sierra Nevada Alliance informed the room.

The new program was made possible by a $28,000 grant from the Sierra Nevada Alliance.

Beginning Saturday, the volunteers will receive training in how to conduct a battery of tests to measure the water quality of streams feeding into the Truckee River. The field training is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sagehen Creek Field Station, and volunteers are encouraged to bring a lunch and prepare for any kind of weather.

At Tuesday’s launch of the program, Ferranto and Beth Christman of the watershed council outlined the ambitious goals of the Adopt A Stream program. The council has identified up to 20 possible locations on Truckee River tributaries where quarterly tests of water quality should be conducted, including the “must-hit streams” of Donner Creek, Cold Creek, Martis Creek, Trout Creek, Little Truckee River and Squaw Creek.

The purpose of the program is to establish baseline data for the physical, chemical and biological character of each site, to identify problems, and to measure the effectiveness of any remedial work, Ferranto said.

The health of the Truckee River watershed has been affected by a history of silver mining, railroad construction, gravel mining, cattle grazing, clear-cut logging and the presence of an interstate highway, Ferranto added. Other activities that have degraded the river system’s water quality include erosion and sedimentation, highway salting, the area’s sewage systems, railroad operations, abandoned mines and reduced water flows.

The first field training Saturday will help the volunteers learn how to test for air and water temperature, the water’s acidity, the amount of dissolved oxygen and total dissolved solids, and the water’s turbidity, or how cloudy or murky it is. All the measures are interrelated, and affect the health of the stream and the animals and plants that depend on clean water.

One prospective volunteer, a fisherman who wore waders to the meeting, explained his motivation to adopt Donner Creek.

“I have found appalling and disgusting conditions when I’ve fished where Donner joins the Truckee River,” the angler said. “I’ve seen people washing their cars by the river, and dump things in the river.”

For more information, call Christman at the watershed council at 550-8761.