Over the years a multitude of citizen-based water quality monitoring programs have existed in Wisconsin. Unfortunately data collected by those programs has not been very useful or reliable because the monitoring protocols have varied so widely. Recently, these groups have been pushing for a system that would make data collected by trained citizens more useful to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and other organizations. Secondly, financial and staffing shortages have made it increasingly more difficult for the WDNR to monitor Wisconsin’s 84,474 miles of streams. Thus the WDNR has become receptive to the idea of training citizens to be monitors.
The qualifications to participate are not restrictive but are important. No science background is necessary, but volunteers must be dedicated, meticulous, and physically able to walk in and along the river to access monitoring sites. Additionally volunteers are responsible to collect data on a monthly basis during the spring and summer and report the data to an online database.
Riveredge trains volunteers in this program and loans them the equipment they need to monitor a designated area within the Milwaukee River Watershed. The volunteers do a habitat assessment and collect data on the stream flow, water temperature, clarity, and dissolved oxygen levels of the water in their stretch of the river. Citizens can monitor at one of two levels.
Level I monitors need no previous experience, they receive basic training and their data is primarily used for educational purposes.
Level II monitors are required to have previous water quality monitoring experience and their training, responsibility & commitment to the project are elevated. They use more sophisticated equipment and the data they produce may be used by the WDNR to make management decisions.
If you are interested in volunteering as either a Level I or II monitor please contact Mary Holleback at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-287-8098 for more information.