Watershed to get a checkup

Jones Falls `snapshot' sampling to give good picture of its condition

July 21, 2004|By Amy Segreti | Amy Segreti,SUN STAFF

Early Saturday morning, 20 people will hike out to streams across the Jones Falls watershed. And at 9 a.m. - or as close to that time as possible - they will simultaneously dip their test tubes into the water for the second annual "snapshot" of the watershed.

"`Snapshot' is like a one-day picture," said Ellen Schmitt, restoration coordinator for the Jones Falls Watershed Association, which works to protect the area through monitoring, advocacy and community awareness. "It's a glimpse of what the entire watershed looks like at a particular day and time."

The Jones Falls Watershed Association and Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay's RestoreCorps started the annual Jones Falls Watershed Snapshot event last year.

Water samples will be taken from 25 sites. Runners will be ready to take the samples to the lab by noon, where they will be analyzed for coliform, ammonia, nitrogen, phosphorus, acidity and conductivity levels. Results will be compared to those from last year.

The RestoreCorps program, which trains watershed organizations to improve the quality of the Chesapeake Bay's streams and rivers, works with the Jones Falls association to help them recruit volunteers.

"We were looking for new ways to get the community involved and to allow them to make a difference," said Lou Etgen, coordinator of the program. "We want people to understand what the watershed they're living near is like."

Carol Howard and her 10-year-old daughter, Hannah, are new volunteers with the Jones Falls Adopt-a-Stream program and plan to gather data Saturday.

Howard recently adopted a part of the Western Run stream near her home in Mount Washington. "I was always appalled by the amount of trash around the stream," she said. "We went there two weeks ago when it flooded, and you could see where the water left its mark - the trash was plastered so high against the trees."

With a master's degree in marine biology and an interest in the environment, Howard said she is intent on keeping her adopted stream clean. "Kids ought to be able to play in the stream," she said. "I'm looking forward to knowing what's in it, how bad it is, and what we can do to help it."

Volunteers will also be able to analyze their water samples. "Some people say, `Well, I'd like to check out my own backyard stream,' and we let them," said Schmitt.

Streams to be analyzed in the Jones Falls watershed are North, Moores and Slaughterhouse branches, Dipping Pond Run, Deep Run, Stoney Run, Roland Run, Towson Run and Western Run.

The event is sponsored by the Forestry Workgroup of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program.

Training for the sampling will be held today from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Towson University in Linthicum Hall, Room 11. For information, call the alliance at 410-377-6270.

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