Sierran Masthead

Hoosier Riverwatch Training Available Around the State

By John Ulmer, Chapter Riverwatch Coordinator

The Hoosier Chapter has supported participation of all the groups, committees, and members in Hoosier Riverwatch. Hoosier Riverwatch is a volunteer program run by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Purdue University to train monitors throughout the state.

Data collected by this volunteer network is entered into a public statewide database to keep an eye on the quality of Indiana waters. Over 3,800 volunteers have been trained in water-quality monitoring.

The monitoring consists of chemical tests of the water, examining the "bugs" found on the rocks and stream banks and bottoms, and finally a physical habitat assessment of the particular portion of the stream being monitored. The data collected can aid researchers and government agencies in seeing changes or trends in waters at locations that staff and fiscal limitations may prohibit them from testing. This is even more important considering the budget conditions in Indiana today.

This year a new and much easier chemical testing method was introduced into the Hoosier Riverwatch program. In prior years "level 1" testing was done with the Green Kit, which provided pretty elementary data. This was a good kit to use with school children. "Level 2" testing was done with the Hach Kit. This required an additional day of volunteer training, and the testing was more time-consuming and could bring back unpleasant memories of high school and college chemistry classes.

The new chemical testing procedures are much simpler and yield results more quickly than the previous "level 2" methods. The benefits are twofold. First, we will have more time to examine macro invertebrates and habitat issues, which provide a longer-term view of water quality. Secondly, we will have less hassle and hopefully can be in the field more often-thus providing more sample data to the database.

The Hoosier Chapter will provide free training, both to get new volunteers and to refresh those trained previously. The program is a full day. (Previously, training required two days to complete.) Training includes habitat assessment, macro invertebrate identification, and chemical testing in the classroom and the field. We have scheduled training for the following dates and locations:

  • Heartlands: June 12
  • Winding Waters: Sept. 18
  • Michiana: To be determined. Call Chuck Rupley, (574) 277-2511
  • Five Rivers: Oct. 2

Riverwatching is not only a valuable tool to help improve Indiana's water quality but is fun as well. Please consider attending one of the training sessions. For more information, e-mail or call (317) 769-3500. If there is special interest for a different time or location, please e-mail or call.

Copyright © 2007 Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, all rights reserved.[06/06/04]efp

Summer 2004