Finding Macro Invertebrates                            Khai Suan and Devon Hamilton test for dissolved oxygen

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At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

Prescription for First Warm Spring Saturday: Wade in Stream, MFAI and Farmer Group Host WAV (water monitoring) Training

May 5 found 18 farmers and others at the Cates Family Farm in Spring Green for a Water Action Volunteers (WAV) training on how to conduct basic water quality stream monitoring. Several Uplands Watershed farmers attended as well as others from watersheds around Wisconsin’s hilly Southwest. After an hour of preparatory explanation, UW-Wisconsin Water Action Volunteers Program Manager Peggy Compton encouraged everyone to pull on waders and boots and wade into Lowery Creek, which winds through the Cates property. We learned how to accurately measure dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH, water speed, and other parameters in the water and netted for macroinvertebrates along the stream bank. There were congratulatory high fives for the Cates farm and landowners upstream when we found caddis fly and other larvae wiggling around our pan – encouraging signs of stream health.

The six-hour training was broken by lunch, but DNR’s stream biologist Jean Unmuth taught us about assessing habitat along the stream while we chomped. The day’s training got high marks from participants. “I became aware of how powerful the notion is of well-trained citizen scientists carefully monitoring the waters of our state,” said Dick Cates. Farmers Linda and Daniel Marquardt wrote, “Learning by doing is powerful — especially when the collaborators in a watershed project are your neighboring farmers and landowners, and the hands-on training is practical, professional, and well-documented! Many thanks to the organizers, and to all the neighbors who participated with us and will continue the work!” Sally Leong said she appreciated, “the excellent training we received and resources that were made available to us to conduct water quality analysis of streams in Wisconsin.”

Definitely, it was a productive way to spend the first warm Saturday in May.


WAV Trainer Peggy Compton Lays out the Day                    Measuring Turbidity




Finding Macro Invertebrates                            Khai Suan and Devon Hamilton test for dissolved oxygen