Water Quality Monitoring

Story County Water Monitoring & Interpretation Plan 2021-2030

Planning for a locally-led water monitoring program in Story County was a process of discovery that began before 2020 and will continue to unfold over the next 10 years. Prairie Rivers of Iowa partnered with others on the Story County Water Monitoring Planning Team to create a report that explained why water quality data is important, where we already have data and where it is lacking, how to collect new data and interpret the findings, and goals for 2021-2031. Read the full report here

View the plan

Story County Water Monitoring & Interpretation Plan 2021-2030

Story County Water Quality Monitoring Program (SCWQMP)

The SCWQMP is a volunteer water quality monitoring program whose goals are to provide a balanced approach for citizens to become involved in protecting and improving water resources. To develop opportunities for citizens to experience and discover the influence of watershed on water quality and to develop a user-friendly process for data collection and interpretation to increase accurate information on the county’s water resources. 

SCWQMP follows the Izaak Walton League of America Save Our Streams (SOS) processes and procedures. The SOS program is the only nationwide program training volunteers to protect waterways from pollution and bring information about water quality to their communities.

The program began in 1969, when water pollution problems were easy to see – like massive oil spills and burning rivers. Early Save Our Streams volunteers cleaned up trash from their local waterways and reported problems like streams becoming clogged with silt.

In the 1980s, the League recognized that with the right training, volunteers could collect scientifically valid macroinvertebrate and chemical data to assess water quality in local streams – a conviction that has proven true. Ever since, the League has been teaching volunteers to study stream health and report their findings to decision-makers.

Today, trained volunteer stream monitors across the country are creating a critical record of water quality over time, making it possible to quickly identify pollution problems that develop in the future.

Anybody can get trained to monitor for aquatic macroinvertebrates (bugs) – and anybody can collect valuable chemical data about the health of their local stream with no training at all.

Story County Conservation provides chemical water monitoring kits for staff and volunteers to use in the SCWQMP. These include: 

  • Tote bag
  • Chemetrics® dissolved oxygen test kit (30 tests) 
  • Hach® test strips- pH (50 tests) 
  • Hach® titrators- chloride (40 tests) 
  • Chemetrics® orthophosphate test kit (30 tests) 
  • Hach® test strips- nitrate- N /nitrite N (25 tests) 
  • 60 cm transparency tube (with secchi disk) 
  • armored thermometer
  • Clipboard 
  • Waste container

The Chemical Monitoring Data (dissolved oxygen, pH, chloride, phosphate, nitrate-N, transparency, water temperature) should be collected and reported twice per month to the Clean Water Hub for each site. The collection windows are the first and third or second and fourth week of each month. 

The SCWQMP selects testing sites with consideration of the need factors around them, including accessibility of the site, proximity to activities that may alter water quality and for measuring an overall ambient baseline condition. SCWQMP discusses site options that will impact Story County watersheds, with Prairie Rivers of Iowa and community partners to determine site locations which provide the most benefit to all groups for the betterment of the Story County watersheds.

View which sites SCC is monitoring and corresponding data

Clean Water Hub link

Interested in becoming a SCWQMP volunteer? View available monitoring sites below