Details about the RIverwatch Program
River Watch (RW) is a program which provides students with watershed education and field science experiences. In the past two years the program has expanded and now includes macroinvertebrate sampling, snow study and river explorations. Water quality monitoring of ditches, streams and rivers in the local watershed is the primary research focus.
Four high schools in the Bois de Sioux Watershed District (BDSWD) namely Campbell-Tintah, Herman-Norcross, Wheaton and Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley are involved in RW. Twenty-four students are currently enrolled from 8th through 12th grade. All together they monitor water quality at 31 designated sites once a month, from April through October. All four schools also participate in the snow study which usually takes place between November and March.
Water Quality Monitoring
The students use a multiparameter sonde to measure temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and pH of the water. They use a turbidimeter and a Secchi tube (formerly transparency tube) to determine turbidity and water clarity respectively. Students also take site photos and document observations that may influence water quality upstream and downstream.
River Watch teachers and students participate in an annual Red River Basin Water Quality Training organized by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), International Water Institute (IWI), Red Lake Watershed District and monitoring partners to ensure that Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)are followed. Last year 2 students from Campbell-Tintah high school accompanied their advisor, Roy Mayeda to the training. When teachers are unable get certified through the annual training, IWI staff member, Evelyn Ashiamah, ensures that quality data is collected by reviewing SOPs with the teams during their first sampling trip of the season.
The monitoring season is wrapped up with each RW school entering their field data on an Excel spreadsheet. It is followed by quality assurance checks by the RW advisor and IWI staff to ensure the correct entry of data. Students assess water quality in their portion of the watershed and discuss any apparent changes and causal factors that might be contributing to these conditions. They report their findings to the BDSWD and share the monitoring results at the Annual River Watch Forum through poster presentations.
This project investigates the factors of snow pack depth and water equivalency, frost depth, early spring storms, and soil moisture content. All the four schools have strategic locations at their school premises where they measure these factors. In addition to students gaining knowledge of the interaction of these factors and their significance to flooding, the data they collect is reported on the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) network for use by the National Weather Service.