Volunteers monitor water quality in Wissahickon watershed
|By Jessica Parks, The Philadelphia Inquirer|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"Well, yesterday we got a little bit."
"Looks pretty clear to me."
"All righty. Stream bed color?"
The association has its own scientists survey the creek -- but only once a season, and only at 13 sites along the 64-mile watershed.
Having more eyes on the creek more often and in more places will make the data more detailed and accurate, said
Although they'd been through training and were equipped with a binder and checklists, the amateur scientists found some things have to be learned by experience.
"Water flow -- slow, moderate, swift, or combination?"
"Certainly slow if you look this direction. But this way, behind us, it's moderate,"
"I'd go with slow," Figary says, looking down from the bridge.
After finishing at their first site, the McClures follow the creek south. They pass a clearing under Peco power lines recently converted into a meadow of native plants. They turn into a narrow tunnel carved out of young forest, and cross a tiny wooden bridge over a stream.
"Oh, you guys have a condition here," Figary says, stepping aside to let her proteges investigate.
"So, we should just report some cloudiness in a tributary?"
"Yeah," says Figary. "It might be something as simple as what it seems to be, which is low groundwater coming in from the rain. Or it could be something a little bit more serious," such as pollution from a construction site.
Such problems are usually quickly remedied, once they are reported, Figary says.
For the McClures -- who met three decades ago through their shared love of folksinging -- the program is a way to protect what's left of the natural areas they played in as children, and to address some of their curiosities.
"As a casual observer, I didn't know a bad bubble from a good bubble,"
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