An Rx For Lake Erie Streams
Northern state, OH

Grantee: Izaak Walton League of America, Ohio Division
Basin Program Funds: $15,000
Non-federal Funds: $10,198
Project Duration: 05/1997 - 09/1997
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified sediments and attached substances from nonpoint source pollution as a major source of contamination in Lake Erie and its tributaries. While considerable work has been done to control rural nonpoint source pollution, its urban counter-part continues to grow in volume. The Izaak Walton League of America, Ohio Division (IWLA) sought to tap citizen concern and willingness to behave in an environmentally sensitive manner and enhance as yet underdeveloped programs to monitor and restore urban streams.

Volunteer water monitoring

Historically Ohio Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) have concentrated on correcting agricultural nonpoint source pollution such as sedimentation, nutrient enrichment and pesticide deposition. Consequently remedial measures are relatively well-developed to address these issues but measures addressing urban run-off and stream modification are not nearly so well developed. The IWLA program Save Our Streams (SOS) trains volunteers to monitor streams for nonpoint source pollution, implement hands-on restoration projects and, in turn, impart these skills to others. SOS has been identified as a potential complementary service which can be employed by Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to increase citizen involvement and address Lake Erie basin urban run-off and stream modification problems.

The Save Our Streams program includes three workshops. "Introductory Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring" workshops teach volunteers to identify watershed pollution problems, develop a watershed map which includes stream habitat and watershed land uses, and adopt a local stream for monitoring and restoration. "Quality Assurance" workshops are for persons who have completed the first workshop or have equivalent experience. Through field and laboratory tests, participants are assessed on their ability to carry out in-stream monitoring, correct monitoring errors and analyze data. Finally, "Train the Trainer" workshops teach people to design, coordinate and run their own volunteer monitoring projects. Information covered in these workshops includes topics from the "Introductory" workshop as well as training in data review, management and reporting, quality assurance and control, program promotion and public outreach.

The Ohio Division of Soil and Water Conservation (DSWC) provided funding to soil and water conservation districts to hire an urban stream specialist who organized local volunteers and groups to carry out urban watershed restoration programs. IWLA provided low cost training for DSWC staff and volunteers, enabling them to train other volunteers in stream assessment and government agency cooperation to improve pollution control. IWLA national office sent experienced staff to Ohio to assist the Ohio Division in the initial training. IWLA Ohio held 1 "Train the Trainer" workshop, 3 "Quality Assurance Certification" workshops and 4 "Introductory" SOS workshops. These workshops were all conducted proximate to Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs). The workshops provided education about stream pollution and rehabilitation, established a database system to help monitor the streams and enabled a ‘hands-on' approach to conservation among the volunteers.

Volunteer stream assessment

Representatives from 28 Ohio and 1 Pennsylvania counties participated in a total of 8 SOS workshops between June and August 1997. Thirty persons were trained as SOS trainers, while an additional forty were certified through the "Quality Assurance" workshops. In total 143 persons received training to monitor nonpoint source pollution and participate in remedial stream modification at eight events.

Contact: Raymond C. Zehler, (513) 868-3179


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