Water pollution affects us all. Although there are no easy solutions, our hope for the future is a generation of informed and concerned citizens working together to alleviate the problem. Unfortunately, even we, as adults, don't always know how to contribute to help. One valuable contribution we can make is to guide young people as they learn what to do and determine a course of action. The Adopt-A-Stream program is about helping you, help them, help your environment.
The program is flexible, challenging, meaningful, and can be integrated into all subject areas.
For more on this topic, click here: Integrating Water Quality Monitoring Into Curriculum
First, get a group of young people who care, together, (classes, school groups, organizations). Then register using the downloadable registration form, and mail, e-mail, or fax it to our office.
By registering, your group agrees to evaluate your adopted waterway twice a year, and report the results to Delta Labs. There are many ways to make use of your findings. Some groups choose to use the information to take actions they feel necessary to improve their lake, stream, pond, or wetland. For example, your group may decide the best action is to educate your community about the waterway, do storm drain stenciling, or rain garden planting to curb storm water pollution.
Participating educators or youth leaders may purchase Teacher's Guides for elementary, middle, or high school, which present monitoring in a ready to use activity format and are designed to help meet curriculum needs. The Teacher's Guides contain detailed instructions for a variety of simple water quality tests as well as extensive resource material and chapters on safety, sampling, and data evaluation.
Click on your grade level for the Teacher's Guide you need.
For the uninitiated, the free training provides an overview for getting started, mapping your site, the watershed walk and visual survey, and a hands-on review for field procedures, including aquatic invertebrate identification. (Available in Monroe, Livingston, Genesee, and Wayne counties.) Look herefor workshops available, and a schedule.
When choosing your site, consider the following:
Select the sampling site or sites based on these, and visit the site(s) before field trip day.
Select sampling stations within the site. The number of stations depend on the number of students participating, and what questions you address with your program. For instance, if you want to establish baseline information on the water body's overall health, select a wide variety of stations to insure random sampling. If you know where a discharge source comes into the waterway, set up three sampling stations: one control station above that point, a second one immediately downstream from the discharge, and a third further downstream of the impact where the water has at least partially recovered from the impact.
Gather (or have the students gather) information about the waterway such as maps and information on the watershed boundaries, geography, geology, recreational uses, fish and wildlife data, water quality data, demographic information, as well as development and employment information. The more information you have at hand, the easier it is to get a clear picture of the watershed (link here to...) and concerns within it.
Based on the information you find about your waterway, brainstorm ideas to determine what project the young people want to address.
Depending on the project students want to tackle, you'll need to order or make necessary equipment and materials. See this link for instructions for some money-saving monitoring equipment, some of which students can make. Click here for a list of Sources for ordering equipment and test kits.
With this preliminary information in hand, the group visits their waterway to record observations and take samples. This field trip can include a physical examination of the waterway, photographs and videos, a determination of water level and flow and an assessment of the aesthetic appearance of the water and shoreline. Water temperature, pH, color, turbidity, and other factors can be measure. Chemical analysis may be done at the site or in the school lab. Students also examine stream inhabitants as indicators of the environmental health of their stream.
All results and observations made by the students are compiled into a written report. Presentation and publication of the student's work (for the group's co-sponsor or for the school library for future monitoring groups) motivates them to do their best. A summary can be presented to the public through a news release and/or an oral presentation to the community co-sponsor.
Delta Enviromental urges each group to use these findings to further the protection and enhancement of their waterway by actions such as removing shoreline trash.