Stream Team evaluates quality of local waterways


Liz Spencer/The Chart

Using a kick net, Al Hash, left, Oronogo, Mo., and John Birner, Pierce City, collect an invertebrate sample at Spring Creek, a tributary to Shoal Creek, on Saturday, April 27, 2013.

The Missouri Stream Team, a program of the Missouri Department of Conservation, in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources and the Conservation Federation of Missouri hosted the Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring (VWQM) workshop at Wildcat Glades Audubon Center on Saturday. The workshop educated and trained 29 volunteers on how to collect and identify invertebrates to rate the water quality of a stream. Participants attended a six hour workshop and then headed out to Spring Creek, a tributary to Shoal Creek, to sift bugs out of the stream.

“I didn’t think anything was living here. Once we took a sample, I thought ‘where are all these guys coming from,’” said Al Hash of Oronogo. Hash is a member of the Audubon stream team. “It’s fun. You get to meet a lot of people.”

Volunteers all over the state form stream teams to help improve Missouri’s water. Teams can clean up and learn about the quality of local streams. Citizens and college students alike can participate in the volunteer monitoring program. April Perry of the Missouri Department of Conservation said, “You get to see what’s going on in the water. It’s a great learning experience. We are teaching people to take ownership of their streams.”

Participants collect samples and record data that is shared with the Department of Natural Resources.  Jim Schoeberl of Joplin said, “Whatever is in the water reflects the cleanliness of the water.” The invertebrates that are found in the water actually, “indicate the health or pollution of the stream,” Schoeberl said.

John Birner of Pierce City and his family are a part of the Shoal Creek Pickers team. What Birner likes most about the stream team is that, “it gets the kids involved.”

Interested persons can contact Chris Riggert, VWQM Program Coordinator at [email protected] or (573) 522-4115 ext. 3167.