More than 100,000 streams, creeks, and rivers thread through the Chesapeake Bay watershed sending about 51 billion gallons of fresh water into the Bay each day! Unfortunately, due to agricultural & urban stormwater runoff, erosion and wastewater overflow, excess nutrients, sediment, litter and chemical contaminants often tag along for the ride. Excess nutrients fuel the growth of harmful algae blooms that block sunlight from reaching underwater grasses and lead to low-oxygen dead zones that suffocate marine life. Suspended sediment blocks sunlight from reaching underwater grasses, smothers oysters and other bottom-dwelling species, and clogs ports and channels. Litter and chemical contaminants like pesticides pose serious health risks to both humans and wildlife. Take action!
Monitor Wildlife: Creeks and streams provide vital habitat for many aquatic species, including anadromous fish species like shad & sturgeon (that spend their adult lives in the ocean but migrate into freshwater rivers and streams to spawn), turtles & amphibians, aquatic insects, mammals, birds and important plants & grasses. Diverse communities of benthic organisms like clams, crustaceans, insect larvae & worms found on the bottom of rivers and streams form an important link in the food web, and act as an indicator of watershed health.
Monitor Water Quality: Monitoring data can reveal changes in pollution levels and trends over time that provide valuable knowledge to policy makers and conservationists and improve our understanding of the Bay and its tributaries. Collecting and sharing water quality data strengthens Bay-wide efforts to provide the most accurate and reliable representations of Bay water quality.
Conduct Projects to Improve Water Quality: Don’t stop at monitoring – take action! Conduct a stream clean-up! Install rain barrels, rain gardens, green roofs and more to slow and filter stormwater! Plant a forest buffer next to a stream! Learn more about monitoring projects below and about projects to improve water quality on our Clean Water Projects page!
Before You Start
- Overview: Project Planning Basics
- Find a Local Waterway:
Design and Preparation
- Save Our Streams Data Monitoring Forms
- USGS Streamflow, Hydrographs & Water Data
- Identify Stream Wildlife, Plants & Macroinvertebrates
- Plan a Stream or River Clean-Up Event
- Clean Water Projects to Restore & Protect Your Stream
Using Your Project
- Bay Backpack: Rivers and Streams Lessons & Activities
- Bay Backpack: Water Monitoring Lessons & Activities
- Bay Backpack: Land Use Lessons & Activities
- Project WILD: Aquatic
- Project WET: Water Education for Teachers
- Fostering Outdoor Observation Skills-Citizen Science K-8 (AFWA)
- Eco School Sustainability Pathways Lessons & Resources
- Eco School National Standards & Curriculum Alignment
- Project Learning Tree Curriculum Offerings
- Eco Schools Green STEM Initiative