About the Riverwatch Program
The Riverwatch Program consists of concerned citizens trained to use the latest technology to gather important water quality data in the Buffalo and Niagara River watersheds. Volunteers conduct monthly monitoring of streams in their neighborhood and also provide a network of “Eyes on the Water” to report pollution or improper land uses on these waterways.
Why We Test
While government agencies regularly collect data from a number of sites in our watershed, budget and staff limitations prevent adequate coverage of the Niagara and its many tributaries. RIVERKEEPER aims to provide surveillance monitoring to bolster baseline, local water quality data. This data will allow RIVERKEEPER to track the health of the waterways and be able to determine if restoration efforts are having a positive effect on water quality.
Where We Test
Our volunteers test throughout the entire Niagara River Watershed. Click on the map above for a more detailed view of testing locations.
What We Test
We test for basic water quality issues as follows:
Dissolved Oxygen: Oxygen is measured in its dissolved form as dissolved oxygen (DO), and is essential for the survival of nearly all aquatic life. Oxygen levels are decreased in rivers and streams by storm water runoff from farmland or urban streets, feedlots, failing septic systems, and wastewater from sewage treatment plants.
Conductivity: Conductivity is a measure of the ability of water to pass an electrical current. Conductivity in water can be affected by the presence of inorganic dissolved solids such as chloride, nitrate, sulfate, and phosphate ions, which may indicate the presence of sewage waste.
pH: pH is a term used to indicate the alkalinity or acidity of a substance as ranked on a scale from 1.0 to 14.0. The majority of aquatic animals prefer a range of 6.5-8.0. pH outside this range reduces the diversity in the stream because it stresses the physiological systems of most organisms and can reduce reproduction. Low pH can also allow toxic elements and compounds to become “available” for uptake by aquatic organisms.
Turbidity: Turbidity is a measure of the amount of suspended material in water which can include soil particles, algae, plankton, microbes, and other substances. Higher turbidity increases water temperatures, decreases DO, provides refuge for harmful microbes, and can clog gills of fish and crustaceans.
Temperature: Aquatic organisms are all dependent on certain temperature ranges for their optimal health. Temperature affects the oxygen content of the water (as temperature increases, the amount of oxygen it can hold decreases); the rate of photosynthesis by aquatic plants; the metabolic rates of aquatic organisms; and the sensitivity of organisms to toxic wastes, parasites, and diseases.
View current and past Riverwatch Reports here:
Contact Wendy Paterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-852-7483 ext 26.