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, equipment, assistance, and support throughout the year. We offer formal, one-day training sessions 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!

For a short video that about what’s involved in being a Water Action Volunteer, click HERE.

Our training sessions are usually in the early spring.  Visit our events page to check for upcoming sessions.

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.

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.