Get down: Muck about for a good cause

As much as everyone knows now that water is such a precious resource, as soon as it rains, most people return to their original ways of flushing and drinking and watering with little regard for tomorrow. Maybe we’ve learned our lesson, but history tends to indicate otherwise. We can’t make rain, but we can preserve what we have so that drastic measures (like recycling effluent) can be avoided.
Virginia Save Our Streams trains and certifies volunteer water monitors throughout the state. Data collected by certified monitors is sent to state agencies for use in water quality assessments. As a nonprofit, non-governmental organization, they work with everyone from individuals to agencies to ensure that future generations of Virginians inherit improved and protected streams, rivers, and estuaries.
Training sessions involve catching and identifying aquatic invertebrates for help in gauging stream health. Healthy waters teem with varieties of these organisms, but when degradation occurs, their living communities change in predictable and measurable ways.
The fun part happens when you get down and dirty in the water with your net. Select a riffle typical of the stream, a shallow, fast-moving area with a depth of three to 12 inches and cobble-sized stones. Size is important because those little wiggly things choose them for protection, nutrients, and oxygen.
Then rub the larger rocks to dislodge the little buggers, and, of course, dig around in the stream bed for burrowing macroinvertebrates. Once you’re thoroughly entrenched, place the net on a flat, light colored surface and, using tweezers or your fingers, pick through your findings.
John Murphy, a program coordinator of Stream Watch, will be the guiding force behind analyzing the particular branch of the Rivanna River that flows past Darden Towe Park on Saturday, November 16.
All 350 certified members of Virginia’s Save Our Streams are volunteers. Without these volunteers there would be no program. Cooperating with Citizens for Water Quality, they also work with schools and teachers to create local watershed stewardship organizations.
So if it’s a beautiful day (heavy rain cancels) why not splash around a little, learn something, and protect a resource that we came very close to losing?

Stream Watch is sponsoring a volunteer stream monitor training session on Saturday, November 16, from 9:30am till noon at Darden Towe Park pavilion. Route 20 North. For more information, contact John Murphy at 242-1145 or visit

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