Water Quality Research

Measurement is the key to continual improvement and determination of best land management practices. That’s why our Water Action Volunteer (WAV) activities are now more important than ever. In collaboration with WDNR and Wisconsin River Alliance, Valley Stewardship Network trains volunteers who serve as “citizen scientists” to measure key parameters that indicate how well our streams and rivers support life. To date, we have trained over 200 citizen scientists and currently collect monthly data at 25 riparian sites.

Become a Water Action Volunteer

We provide training, assistance, and support throughout the year. We offer formal, one-day training session by local or state experts, along with hands-on help from fellow volunteers.
Choose a site near your home or school. Sites are monitored once a month from May through September. The citizen volunteers also meet throughout the year at various locations to discuss results and procedures. Equipment is provided!  See training session information below.

Our three levels of water quality research and training:

Level-I monitoring provides a baseline understanding of a waterway’s health by measuring pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, transparency, nitrates, nitrites, and flow on a monthly basis. Each season, Level-I monitors also assess habitat and conduct aquatic insect (bio-index) sampling. Level-I monitoring is also known as baseline monitoring.
Level-II monitoring uses more sophisticated equipment and WDNR-approved protocols so monitoring data can be used in WDNR research.
Event-driven monitoring checks levels of nutrients such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and ammonia, plus harmful bacteria, all of which can pose biological threats to streams and rivers.
Data collected through Level-I and Level-II WQM establishes baseline measures of watershed health. Such baselines are critical for determining how various types of land use affect our watershed. Agricultural production and urban runoff (non-point source pollution) are the primary causes of water pollution in Wisconsin. In cases of manure spills or flooding, we use event-driven measurement to quickly test nearby waterways and determine how events have affected watershed health.

Sign Up for Water Action Volunteer (WAV) Training – April 21st or April 24th, 2021


Become a Citizen Scientist!  Join Valley Stewardship Network (VSN) on either Wednesday, April 21, 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. or Saturday, April 24, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. to be trained as a Water Action Volunteer (WAV) and learn how to contribute to the health of our watersheds by sampling the water in our streams! 

You can join a network of over 500 citizen scientist volunteers across the state who are part of the WAV program. As a WAV volunteer, you’ll learn about water quality and aquatic life in your local stream while collecting valuable scientific data. You’ll monitor dissolved oxygen, temperature, transparency, and flow once a month from May – October and collect stream bugs and other critters each spring and fall. We provide the equipment and teach you the methods.  Learn more about the WAV program here: https://wateractionvolunteers.org.

Your training begins with an online, self-guided study that is followed by an in-person workshop (conditions permitting) to be held at the West Fork Sports Club. Registration is required. Email info@valleystewardshipnetwork.org to register.  The deadline for registration is April 19.  Additional information will be sent to you upon registration.

Once trained, you can expect to spend 1-2 hours per month collecting stream data. Volunteers often work in a 2-3 person team and monitor wadeable streams and rivers, often located near their home or within a short driving distance. The data you collect is entered into the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR’s) Surface Water Integrated Monitoring System (SWIMS) online database. Anyone with web access can view the data in the database, which is searchable by county, stream, or site name.

Become a citizen scientist.

We provide training and tools for volunteers to help measure the benefits of good stewardship. See our schedule of training sessions (when available) or contact us for other training options.