As a volunteer with the Tryon Creek water quality monitoring program, I recently had the opportunity to go through and analyze the data that has been collected. With the help of a few fellow volunteers, we created a poster summarizing the data and presented it at the 2015 State of the Watershed event held at the Tryon Creek State Park Visitor Center. Below is a summary of the information that we presented at the event.
Overview of the Program
The water quality monitoring program was started in 2012 and tracks the overall effectiveness of restoration within the watershed. The goal of the program is to establish a baseline characterization of the Tryon Creek watershed. Each month, volunteers go out and collect temperature data as well as water samples to test bacteria and turbidity.
Each month, volunteers split up into teams and then head out to various stations. Some stations requiring driving while others can be reached via walking. Once at a site, volunteers then collect temperature data and collect a water sample. A second sample is collected from stations that have been selected for bacteria analysis. Volunteers then return to the Nature Center and the turbidity is measured onsite. The bacteria samples are taken to an offsite lab where they can be analyzed for bacteria levels.
The average E.Coli by site map and monthly graph show that some sites have exceeded both the Federal EPA and Oregon DEQ standards at some point over the past few years. One possible hypothesis for the high level of E.coli at certain sites is pollution from leaking sewer pipes and septic tanks.
Overall, the water quality data collected so far indicates that there is some room for improvement within the watershed. Additional restoration projects could help improve the water quality in the future. Continuing the water quality monitoring program would also be beneficial since it would provide more data. This data can then be used as a baseline and can help determine any trends occurring throughout the watershed.