Citizen Science- Environmental monitoring of water clarity throughout the Catawba River basin
Don’t be surprised if you see people from boats, docks and piers dropping a Secchi disk, a black-and-white weighted disk on a rope, into the water. From June 25 through July 17, Catawba Riverkeeper volunteers will be out collecting environmental data from sites throughout the Catawba River Chain of Lakes. This volunteer assessment of water transparency will be adding data to the “Secchi Dip-In,” a project to monitor lakes in the United States and Canada that started in 1994 with 800 volunteers in six Midwest states.
The Secchi Dip-In is a “demonstration of the potential of volunteer monitors to gather environmentally important information on our lakes, rivers and streams.” Over the years, it has grown to encompass numerous waterways throughout the United States and Canada, and has encouraged the participation of over 2,000 volunteers. This project provides local, regional and international insights into the water quality of our region’s drinking water resource.
“Not only is this a great opportunity to learn about the clarity and health of the lakes in our region. It’s a great excuse to get out and enjoy the Catawba’s lakes,” states Catawba Riverkeeper David Merryman.
Catawba Riverkeeper encourages citizens of all ages throughout the Catawba River basin to participate in the environmental monitoring project as well. Anyone interested in participating in the project can contact Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation to receive a Secchi disk, directions and data collection sheets. This program provides a great opportunity to engage the up-and-coming leaders of our community and the scientific minds of tomorrow in environmental monitoring.
Directions for how to collect data using a Secchi Disk
On the day of data collection between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. go to the location you want to test. Then:
1. Slowly lower the Secchi disk into the water on the shady side of the boat or dock until it just disappears from view. Note this depth.
2. Lower the disc a few feet more until it is no longer visible. Then, slowly raise the disk until it just becomes visible once again. Note this depth.
3. Average the depths from steps 1 and 2 to get the Secchi depth.
4. This may be repeated for a measurement of precision.
5. Record the depth on your form.
After measuring we would also like the following information if possible:
· Your name and a contact phone or email
· The lake or water body you're testing
· The general weather conditions at time of testing and in last 24 hours, if possible
· Time of day and date of data collection
· Air temperature and, if possible, water temperature
· Location - GPS coordinates if possible. Most portable GPS units for cars have a "where am I now" function which will provide GPS coordinates if you take the unit with you on your boat. Please write down the coordinates exactly as displayed since there is a difference between coordinates with a decimal point and coordinates that display using ' and " (minutes and seconds). If you don’t have GPS: You can record something like "at my dock at 1234 Any Street, Anytown" on your form and we will locate the GPS position with software.
Feel free to sample more than one location.
Secchi Dip-In Data Collection Forms
Once data is collected and recorded on the collection forms, please email all of your results to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please read more background information on the origin of Secchi Dip-In program at Kent State University.