By Harry Looney – November 2022
LACA started a new water quality project this year focused on collecting data on the health of the streams and creeks in the Lake Anna Watershed. The project is called Save Our Streams and it is made possible through the work of LACA volunteers and partnerships with the Lake Anna State Park and Louisa County High School.
The Virginia Save Our Streams program is part of the Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA) effort that has a fifty-year history of monitoring the health of rivers, streams, and creeks across the United States. The IWLA program began in 1969 with volunteers cleaning up trash from their local waterways and reporting problems like streams becoming clogged with silt.
The IWLA program was expanded in the 1980s to include training of volunteers to collect scientifically valid data to assess water quality in their local streams. Today, trained volunteer stream monitors across the country are uncovering pollution problems and urging their local leaders to act on water quality. The work of these volunteers also creates a critical record of water quality over time, making it possible to quickly identify pollution problems that develop in the future.
The Save Our Streams program focuses on the macroinvertebrates (“critters”) living in the creeks and streams to identify pollution issues. Macro means that you can see them with the naked eye and invertebrates means they do not have a backbone. We look for critters that live in the water on the bottom of the creek under rocks and organic debris.
LACA joined the IWLA network of volunteers this summer and took steps to begin sampling our local streams and creeks. We reached out to the Lake Anna State Park and local educators about joining our effort and we are pleased to partner with both the State Park and Louisa County High School on this project. We worked with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to identify potential sampling sites and we now have four stations that are perfect for Save Our Streams type monitoring. The stations are located on Goldmine Creek and the North Anna River in Louisa County, Pamunkey Creek in Orange County, and Pigeon Run in Spotsylvania County. LACA worked with the landowners near each station to ensure access to the streams is approved.
Our first sampling session took place on Saturday, October 8th. We sent two teams out to monitor the North Anna River and Pigeon Run stations. A LACA volunteer team conducted sampling from State Park property located on Pigeon Run and the Louisa County High School team monitored the North Anna River station. You can see more images from the October 8th sampling on the LACA website at our Save Our Streams page. Our data reports will be posted on the LACA Save Our Streams site as soon as the data is checked for quality control purposes and loaded to the IWLA database. The data are used by DEQ in updating their biennial assessments of impaired waterways in Virginia.
Interested LACA members are welcome to volunteer in support of LACA’s Water Quality Monitoring Program. Contact the Water Quality Project Officer at this link if you are interested in learning more or volunteering.