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Why monitor streams? Because ...
  • Clean, fresh water is necessary for life.
  • It is a fun way to to learn more and understand how the natural world works.
  • Anything that happens on the land will sooner or later show up in streams.

"River-keepers" protected the habitat of salmon and trout streams in England in the 1700's. They "preserved an unimpeded flow of water, prevented poaching, encouraged the breeding of fly (food sources for salmon and trout), and especially, to see the weeds along the banks in which the fly naturally breed, were cared for properly." River-keeper, J.W. hill, 1934.

Streams can be monitored for many characteristics and for many reasons. The role of modern "River-keepers" is much wider. They examine closely the physical, chemical, and biological nature of their streams. They test the water quality, survey fish and wildlife habitat, and keep abreast of land uses in the entire watershed. As a River-keeper you can become an extra set of eyes and ears for government agencies and ensure that your stream is looked after on a regular basis. Even more importantly, you can become an informed citizen who, acting on knowledge, can make proposals on how to improve the condition of the stream and the watershed. Improvements that not only benefit people, but improve the environment as a whole.

To get you started as a River-keeper, four areas of background information areas are offered to help you develop a rich context of understanding of streams. Click on the links below for more background information on these specific areas of stream monitoring.

  1. Visual Survey Background

  2. Water Quality Index Background

  3. Biological Inventory Background - Macroinvertebrates identification key

  4. Flow Rate Background


General Water Facts:

-78% of the earth's surface is covered by water.

-96% of the earth's water is found in the oceans but is largely unusable because of the high salt concentration.

-2% of the earth's water is frozen in the polar ice caps and is unavailable for use. For more information and facts on Sea Ice.

More than -1% of the earth's water is found in the ground and/or air.

Less than -1% of the earth's water makes up all of the fresh water rivers, lakes, ponds, etc.


Stream Terms: [Full Glossary]
source- The place where a stream begins
mouth- The place where a stream empties into a larger body of water.
tributary- A smaller stream that empties into a larger stream.
intermittent stream- A stream that only has running water during wet seasons.
upstream- Facing into the flow.
downstream- going with the flow.
pool- A part of the stream that is usually deep and slow moving.
riffle- A shallow part of a stream where water tumbles over rocks.
streambed- The bottom of a stream.
stream bank The sides of the stream.
backwater- Parts of a stream where the water is still or moves away from the current.
channel- The main part of the stream where the current moves the fastest.

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