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This is the first county-wide stream monitoring program entirely carried out by citizen volunteers with OCCA’s coordination in the New York portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Citizen science monitoring has been shown to be an effective way to collect data that might not otherwise be collected, and can help inform environmental policy, provide baseline conditions, and track long-term changes across the landscape.  Coordination for this program would not be possible without the following partners.

Volunteer recruitment is always ongoing.  If you are interested in becoming a citizen monitor, check out our volunteer sheet or call Leslie Orzetti at 607-547-4488.

OCCA is also soliciting business sponsors and donors to help purchase monitoring kits and safety equipment for our volunteers.  If you or a business you know are interested, call OCCA and consider making a donation today!

 Monitoring Parameters

Dissolved oxygen – This is the amount of oxygen available for stream life.  Dissolved oxygen is measured in mg/l.  A typically “good” amount of dissolved oxygen is 5 mg/l and above.

Temperature – The water temperature has an effect on many physiological process of both plants and animals in the stream as well as the water’s ability to “carry” oxygen and other gases.  A general rule of thumb is that cooler water can carry more oxygen.

pH – pH is a measure of the amount of hydrogen ions present in a substance.  In layman’s terms, the amount of hydrogen ions in a substance is what makes a substance an acid or a base.  The more hydrogen ions, the more acidic a substance is.  The pH scale is from 1-14, with lower numbers considered acidic and higher numbers basic.  Water is typically “neutral”, and because of underlying geology, we typically see pH values from 7.5 – 8.5.

Conductivity – This is a measure of the amount of total ions in the water column or the ability of the water to “conduct” electricity.  Things such as road salt, other chemicals and underlying geology can have an effect on conductivity.  In the northern part of the county, where we have limestone, we usually see higher conductivity because limestone breaks down into calcium and carbonate ions.

Water Clarity – Water clarity affects the ability of light to penetrate the water column. It is a measure of how clear or cloudy the water is.  Most of our streams are typically clear unless there is a rain event where excess sediment is washed into the stream and is suspended in the water.  We need clear water for underwater plants and photosynthesizing organisms to be able to grow.

Nitrate and Orthophosphate – These are both nutrients that are found in our waterways.  They are found under natural conditions, but can be elevated when streams drain agricultural fields and suburban lawns.  Plants need nutrients to grow, and in aquatic systems phosphorus is typically a “limiting” nutrient. So, if particularly phosphorus levels are elevated, this can typically lead to increased algal growth in our larger streams and the lakes into which they flow.

Stream Sites

Stream Data

Our first sampling trip is the third weekend in October…..stay tuned!