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Citizen Monitoring
A Citizen Monitor's Story

Good Practices for Water Pollution Prevention
Tertiary Treated Wastewater
Links to Other Data

Watershed Best Management Practices

 


CCWI's Citizen Monitoring Program

CCWI hosts ongoing orientations for new citizen monitors. Please info@ccwi.org.

- What is Citizen Monitoring?
Citizen monitoring is monitoring of the environment by community volunteers interested in watershed protection. Citizen monitoring activities include collecting water quality data, evaluating fish habitat, counting birds, or making visual observations of stream health. Community and resource managers use monitoring information to better protect California's waters. Over 500 active volunteer monitoring groups are operating throughout the United States.

- Why is it Important?
By monitoring your local creek, river, or stretch of beach, you learn about its health, and the plants and animals it supports. You can help pinpoint pollution sources or identify widespread problems. Your data can provide the background information needed to develop restoration projects or pollution prevention measures. You can work with CCWI to respond to complaints of water pollution in your area. Your actions can be instrumental to protecting or improving the waters in your community.

- Would you like to be a Citizen Monitor?
CCWI is working with existing watershed groups to develop and support citizen monitoring programs. Citizen monitors learn specific testing protocols, and then can collect samples and perform tests which will be used to develop CCWI factsheets, inform the public about potential pollution sources, and support efforts to clean up rivers and streams.

CCWI Citizen Monitoring Program

CCWI coordinates a citizen monitoring program in the Russian River, Salmon Creek, and Petaluma River Basins. Citizen monitors are volunteer members of neighborhood or watershed groups which are interested in watershed protection. By monitoring local creeks and rivers, citizen monitors learn about their watershed, help pinpoint pollution sources, and identify widespread problems. CCWI trains citizen monitors in how to use the equipment, and lends the equipment to them on a monthly basis (like a library). For more information about quality assurance, equipment calibration, and data analysis, please contact the CCWI office.
CCWI conducts a citizen monitoring training on the Laguna de Santa Rosa in Sebastopol
 

Steps to becoming a citizen monitor:
1. Think about these questions: How often will you monitor? We recommend monthly. Which creek or river? We recommend one near where you live or work, or one you especially like.
2. Decide who you want to monitor with. 3 options: form a citizen's group/ neighborhood group, find a monitoring partner, or be a "lone wolf."
3. Pick a stream, creek, or river to monitor. Do some basic research on the creek. Is it already being monitored? By whom? Can you team up with them?


Whatis the history of the creek, what issues are important?
4. Go on a creek walk, look for potential monitoring sites. Is there good access? Is it private property? Are there confounding factors (roads, culverts) which might affect the data?
5. Write up a monitoring plan. It lists who, what, where, why. The monitoring plan must be approved by CCWI. We have sample monitoring plans.
6. The first and second monitoring days. CCWI will accompany you the first 2 times in the field. We will go over how to use the equipment, calibration, how to get good data. We will show you how to fill out the Chain of Custody forms, and answer questions.
7. By your third month of monitoring, you're on your own. You pick up the equipment from CCWI, do a monitoring day on your own. Drop off the equipment and Chain of Custody forms back to CCWI 1-3 days later.
8. Data analysis. We are compiling data from all over Sonoma County. You can also be part of the data analysis, publicizing your findings, and working with the Regional Water Board and others to develop fact sheets and educate the residents of your watershed (optional).

Data Collection Activities and Parameters:
pH Flow
Nitrogen/nitrate Dissolved Oxygen (DO) Temperature
Phosphorus/phosphate Conductivity (Ions) Turbidity

Equipment used:
Turbidity: Hach 2100P Turbidimeter
Multiparameter Kit (Phosphate, Nitrate, Ammonia, temp): Stream Survey Kit
Dissolved Oxygen: ICM Portable DO Meter
pH Meter: double juncture Oakton pHTestr 2
Conductivity: Oakton Conductivity Testr Low; Oakton Conductivity Testr High
Flow: measured with orange, tape measure, stopwatch.

Site selection criteria:
- areas representative of the watershed.
- areas that could be affected by water pollution and siltation from land use practices and development.
- accessibility for long term citizen monitoring projects.

To find out more about becoming a Citizen Monitor, or if you have concerns about pollution in your area, contact us at info@ccwi.org.

Above: Steelhead spawning in Dutch Bill Creek


Being a Citizen Monitor

By Robert Feuer

When John and I arrived at the beach in Monte Rio the Russian River was a swirling mass of raging brown water. Six vultures were hanging out on what was left of the beach and there were an unusual number of ducks both on the shore and in the water. It was our monthly water monitoring day and fortunately for us the rain had let up long enough for us to perform our duties, which involved taking a water sample and using certain meters and gauges to compile figures on temperature, conductivity, turbidity, and the dissolved oxygen content of what was flowing past us.

The buzzards took off as soon as we walked toward them and between the two of us we unloaded his truck and hauled the equipment down to the water's edge. Having not seen each other for a month, we caught up on recent holiday events, family matters and the usual strange tales of life in the west county.

We are card carrying members of the Community Clean Water Institute; volunteers, though what had seemed like little more than a lark, and a chance to do some good, when we had started in the summer became less appealing when I awoke that morning to darkening skies and the pounding rhythm of heavy rain. I called John and he was game, so off we went to do our civic duty.

CCWI, which was organized two years ago as an offshoot of Occidental's Town Hall Coalition is dedicated to promoting and protecting clean water and public health by identifying water pollution, advocating sound water policies and providing information to the public. John and I did not really understand the meaning of the statistics we were gathering but just filled out the required form and let the scientific minds deal with the rest of it. We did understand that the data we collected would be helpful in developing restoration projects or pollution prevention measures and found the work to be pleasant and chance to be outdoors with a real purpose. The people we dealt with in the office of CCWI, Beth and Mike were congenial and seemed to believe in what they were doing.

The actual data collection took us about 20 minutes, after which we loaded up John's truck and headed down the road to our next stop, located in a residential trailer park where the people were nice enough to allow us to use their beach for our purposes. The spot is located near where Austin Creek flows into the river and in the summer offers pristine views of the lazy flow of its greenish water, with a view of an occasional kayak being rowed toward the ocean, or even an osprey or river otter if one gets lucky. Today, though, the flow was anything but lazy and half the beach of summertime was underwater.

A couple of the residents came down to chat and I felt glad when they appeared to appreciate the job we were doing, understanding as they did, the need to take care of the river and protect it from the onslaught of modern civilization. The truck once again loaded, John and I drove up to the other three testing sites, located on Austin Creek. Our favorite, about five miles from Highway 116, was directly adjacent to a bakery at which we often enjoyed a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin or a cinnamon roll.
  Robert Feuer at Monte Rio Beach.
The last site involved traversing a creekside property that had long been abandoned. Redwoods towered above buildings from which I could sense an outpouring of history and the past lives that had been lived there. With the last water sample safely resting in our large cooler and all the blanks filled in on the form provided, we headed back to Monte Rio, where John dropped me off before returning to Sebastopol with the equipment.
  John Pendergraft and Annie Mills use a specially designed pole to monitor water quality near the confluence of Austin Creek and the Russian River.

I went home to get the fire going, feeling satisfied with my little adventure and warmed by the knowledge that I had done some good at the same time.


Good Practices for Water Pollution Prevention

- For Your Household
Examples of good practices: limit paved surfaces; landscape with nature, irrigate during cooler hours of the day, limit fertilizer applications on lawns and gardens; proper septic system management; proper chemical use, storage, and disposal. Chemicals and oil should not be poured into sewers, where they can result in major water quality problems.

- For Agriculture
Farmers can reduce water pollution by managing sedimentation through erosion control measures; managing nutrient use, and saving money through reduced use of fertilizers; reducing confined animal facility wastewater through waste management; managing irrigation by improving water use efficiency; managing pesticides through Integrated Pest Management (IPM); and managing livestock grazing to prevent overgrazing.


Tertiary Treated Wastewater

Here is some information on types of wastewater treatment:

Definitions:
Primary - removes insoluble matter; Method: Gravity separation
Secondary - removes biological impurities; Method: Microorganisms used to rid water of 95% of organic materials
Tertiary - removes nutrients, heavy metals and chemical contaminants; Method: Microfiltered through coal/sand/gravel and Chlorine* disinfection (same treatment as drinking water)

* Chlorination will not kill some parasitic cysts, so must be used in
combination with filtration.

According to Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency's 1987 study (www.environmental-center.com/articles/article1000), no pathogen problems have arisen in crops grown with Tertiary Wastewater; it is the same as well water.

Organic Farming with Tertiary wastewater
Federal Standards for "Organic" foods do not address recycled water, so by default organic farmers may use tertiary water. However, in 2000 California Certified Organic Farmers decided that recycled water can only be applied to non-edible food parts. For example, drip irrigation of strawberries and lettuce is OK, but not sprinkler application.

According to the Water Reuse Association (www.watereuse.org), secondary wastewater may be used on food crops if they go to animal fodder, or it undergoes commercial pathogen-destroying processes. Tertiary water may be used anywhere, including all food crops, schools, playgrounds, etc. 1998 Assembly Bill AB237 Title 22 addresses water reuse regulations.

Facts on the Santa Rosa Subregional Reclamation System, from the
California State Water Resources Control Board: Municipal Wastewater Reclamation Survey (www.cswrcb.gov)
Processing: Activated Sludge (including oxidation ditches), Coagulation and
Flocculation, Filtration, Chlorination and Dechlorination.
Capacity: 18 million gallons/day
Flow: 17.x million gallons/day
Water Users: Farms, schools, golf courses, vegetable irrigation, vineyards, pasture, fodder, Sonoma State University landscaping, Rohnert Park parks
* There is significant unplanned indirect reuse of effluent due to percolation into streambeds and groundwater supplies in some communities.

Check out http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/general/publications/ and scroll down to "Irrigation with Reclaimed Municipal Wastewater, A Guidance Manual 1984". There are 3 parts; it's a large document, so check out the table of contents at the beginning to find the most pertinent info. It has everything you ever wanted to know about wastewater recycling. Here are some highlights:
* Activated Sludge (used in Santa Rosa) is considered high quality
treatment, and will remove 85-95% of the BOD, Suspended Solids, and most heavy metals.
* However, conventional treatment is not too effective against stable organics
(phenols, pesticides, chlorinated hydrocarbons), dissolved inorganic solids (ions
like chloride, boron, sodium), or dissolved minerals.
* Fecal Coliform levels are tested as an indicator of all bacteria and viruses. If there are low levels of Coliform, we assume there are even lower levels of rarer but more virulent viruses, parasites, bacteria, other pathogens.
* Microbial action and the chlorination process sometimes leave residual ammonia and Trihalomethanes in released water. (Trihalomethanes are sometimes over the State limit in Santa Rosa's wastewater)
* Nitrogen and Phosphorus can be removed, but the process is rarely used due to its high cost, so most treated wastewater is high in nutrients, which may reduce farmers' use of fertilizers, but will cause eutrophication in surface waters.
* Storage of cleaned wastewater before release also helps clean it.

* Most important things to remember/watch out for:
- The cleanliness of treated wastewater depends on the cleanliness of the sewer water constituent. So if landfill leachate, industrial and household chemicals, and pesticides go in, more chemicals and nutrients will be present in treated effluent.
- For the most part, the water is adequately cleaned for pathogens, so public health is protected in that aspect.
- Storm high flows may cause overflow of untreated wastewater release, because the facilities do not have the capacity for high flows.
- Ask your local wastewater plant how it accounts for stable organics and dissolved minerals, nutrients, and chlorinated organics-do they test for them, and what levels do they get?

For more information, contact the CCWI office.


 

 

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