In 2006, Milwaukee Riverkeeper established anetwork of trained citizen-science volunteers who monitor streams and rivers throughout the Milwaukee River Basin during the months of May through October. Our volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program is partof the statewide Water Action Volunteers (WAV) Stream Monitoring Program managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and University of Wisconsin- Extension (UW-Ex).

Monitoring sites are located within the three major watersheds and correspondingsubwatersheds of the Milwaukee River Basin:

1) Milwaukee River Watershed: North Branch Milwaukee River Subwatershed, Eastand West Branch Milwaukee River Subwatershed,Cedar Creek Subwatershed, and South Branch Milwaukee River Subwatershed,

2) Menomonee River Watershed, and

3) Kinnickinnic River Watershed.

Our volunteerwater quality monitors aid in keeping tabs on our water quality throughout the year and serve as additional “eyes, ears and noses” in the field. Our volunteer water quality monitors help recognize and identify questionable practices, erosion control violations, illicit discharges, and more. Our volunteer water quality monitoring programbuilds on the WDNR’s and UW-EX’s efforts to improve the quality and quantity of citizen science data used to monitor the health of our waterways.

Volunteer water quality monitorsare trained at two levels of water quality monitoring based on the Water Action Volunteers Stream Monitoring Program protocol created by WDNR and UW-EX. Volunteers begin at Level I and then graduate to Level II.

Level I volunteers learn to monitor dissolved oxygen (DO), air and water temperature, turbidity, stream flow, and periodically assess macroinvertebrate populations and stream habitat and channel conditions.

Level II monitors use calibrated sensors to measure DO, water acidity (pH), specific conductivity ( the ability of water to conduct an electrical current), and water temperature. In addition, Level II monitors deploy automated thermistors, which measure water temperature on an hourly basis throughout the monitoring season. When necessary, Level II monitors collect and send water samples to the State Lab of Hygiene in Madison, WI to be tested for phosphorus levels.

All water quality monitors enter data into the WDNR’s “SWIMS” database. The database is linked to the WDNR website and the Surface Water Data Viewer online mapping tool for the public and WDNR staff to use. Such access encourages data sharing among public and private groups, aids in water quality education, and helps WDNR staff make data-driven management decisions.

Let us know you are interested becoming a volunteer water qualitymonitor for the 2018 season by filling out theform below. We’ll add you to our email list to receive more information about upcoming training sessions and other opportunities to get involved. If you have additional questions, please email our Water Quality Specialist,Zac Driscollor call (414)-287-0207 x 4.

Thank you to our current water quality monitoring funders!


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