Explore the Lake Champlain Basin

Stream Monitoring

Stream monitoring is an important component of stormwater mitigation. Each year, volunteers are needed to take water samples from various local streams. These samples are sent to a lab and analyzed.

What do we monitor for?

Sodium Chloride

Chloride is a component of salt found naturally in minerals and in oceans. Elevated chloride levels in surface waters can lead to poor health and reduced reproduction in aquatic species, according to the Vermont Surface Water Management Strategy. The sources of chloride in water include road deicing salts, wastewater form industries and municipalities, and leachate from landfills.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plants and animals in the aquatic food web and is naturally limited in most fresh waters; therefore, even a modest increase can set off a chain of undesirable events. Such events include algal blooms, accelerated plant growth, low dissolved oxygen, and death of aquatic animals. Phosphorus naturally occurs in soils and rocks. Additional phosphorus enters waterways through runoff from wastewater treatment plants fertilized lawns and cropland, failing septic systems, animal manure storage areas, pet waste and from erosion.

Turbidity

The turbidity of a water sample refers to its cloudiness. This measurement is based on the amount of algae, microbes, and sediment suspended in the water. Turbidity measurements can be used as an indicator for erosion and/or nutrient concentration. Higher turbidity levels can indicate a higher chance of disease-causing organisms being present.

Why do we monitor?

Consistent data related to water quality and quantity allows stormwater managers to better assess the state of our waters and develop solutions that will have a lasting positive effect.  Volunteers are typically used to collect samples at a variety of locations along a stream or within a watershed. On occasion, volunteers may also gather visual data as to the condition of a stream. Data collected in this way may include presence or absence of riparian buffers, streambank stability, and presence of litter or trash.

All of the data collected by Chittenden County Stream Team volunteers is shared with the State of Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VT DEC). The DEC shares all state-wide data with the Environmental Protection Agency.

State-wide Vermont water quality data can be found on the Agency of Natural Resources website.

National water quality data can be found here: http://www.epa.gov/storet/