Scenic Rivers staff improve water quality sampling


COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves Scenic Rivers Program developed a new, more intense stream quality monitoring program focused on macroinvertebrates.

The new plan, approved through the Ohio EPA’s Credible Data Program, is expected to give more detailed information about water quality and stream habitat. 

“These new surveys will add another dimension to our macroinvertebrate monitoring efforts on our scenic rivers statewide,” Scenic River program manager Bob Gable said, in a statement. “We hope this new information will empower communities to better protect their rivers.” 

The new program, considered Level 2 monitoring, will focus on animals like insect larvae, crayfish, and snails. The surveys provide more detailed data about these species and the quality of their habitat. 

Because they are food for other animals, like fish and birds, the decline of macroinvertebrate populations affects the entire food chain. The new data will be used to monitor trends over time, inform the Ohio EPA’s sampling plans when threats are detected and assist in outreach with local communities regarding best practices for maintaining high quality streams. 

The existing Stream Quality Monitoring Program is considered Level 1 sampling by the Ohio EPA, with the primary goals of public awareness and education regarding stream health. Though a Level 2 method has existed previously in Ohio, it was not applicable for statewide use. 

Recognizing this limitation and opportunity, Scenic Rivers Program met with the Ohio EPA and water professionals around the state and proposed a new approach to Level 2 data collection: it allows just a few staff members to assess multiple sites on a yearly basis, while providing accurate data to help answer questions regarding the health of our aquatic resources. 

In its first year, Scenic Rivers Program staff took samples at 29 sites among 18 streams. With continuing stresses on Ohio’s rivers, streams and water quality, Scenic River Program’s focus on data collection remains as vital as ever.


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