Volunteers Complete a 13th Year of River Monitoring

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The 13th season of SYRCL’s robust River Monitoring program has come to a close.  Started in 2000, this program connects community members to the river for collecting data on water quality conditions throughout the watershed.

Incoming River Monitors mastering techniques for measuring water quality

After welcoming 15 newly trained River Monitors to the program this year, a force of 85 River Monitors visited 38 adopted sites throughout the watershed from March to November.  They collected valuable and scientifically rigorous information on water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, conductivity, and the presence of invasive and sensitive species.  These volunteers also helped with the placement of 23 temperature loggers throughout the watershed that collect hourly data on water temperature during the summer months.   They were strategically placed to help us learn about the effects of cold water input from tributaries and the effects of dams and diversions throughout the summer season.

Volunteers helped SYRCL complete another summer of testing for bacteria contamination in collaboration with the State Water Resource Control Board “Safe-to-Swim Study.”  The study focuses on sampling along the Yuba River to identify any bacterial risks at popular swimming holes.  Results show that 6 popular swimming holes on the South, Middle, and North Yuba River meet EPA standards for recreational contact, while one site on a tributary to the North Yuba River had high levels of bacterial contamination that has now been addressed by regulatory authorities.

Furthermore, volunteers were crucial in implementing two additional monitoring regimes this season.  River Monitors in the upper reaches of the South Yuba collected an additional water sample for evaluating chloride runoff to the river as it winds under the Interstate 80 corridor.  Results from the Sierra Streams Institute laboratory suggest that there is a definite input of chloride to the river during winter months.  Volunteers also helped collect population data on Foothill Yellow Legged Frog (FYLF) on a one-mile reach of Shady Creek.  Results show that the creek offers ideal habitat for FYLF, a California Species of Special Concern that could be jeopardized with a potential reopening of the San Juan Ridge Mine.

Volunteer Bret Davis collects data on Foothill Yellow Legged Frog

Water quality data collected during the season will be analyzed in-depth over the next month and compiled into the 2013 Data Summary and Quality Assurance Report.  Look for its appearance on the River Monitoring page along with other program documents.

It’s been a busy season – River Monitoring volunteers contributed 1,347 hours to collecting data on the health of the watershed!  SYRCL will be honoring these awesome volunteers for all their hard work, dedication, and unwavering enthusiasm on December 5th.  It will be an evening of awards and celebration to close out a wonderful 13th season of the River Monitoring Program.

River Monitor Heather Llewellyn braves winter conditions to collect water quality data at Lola Montez Bridge on the South Yuba


Volunteer Pat Warner helping place a temperature logger above Colgate Powerhouse on the Main Stem of the Yuba
River Monitors Kathy Scott and Dan Chaplin collecting data at Upper Castle Creek
River Monitor Sam Lawson and Marianne Pott removing temperature loggers placed in the South Yuba

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