Volunteers needed for stream monitoring

Many watershed residents are aware of the fact that the University of New Hampshire’s Lakes Lay Monitoring Program (LLMP) has been sampling and testing Lake Wentworth and Crescent Lake for more than a quarter of a century. Carried out by volunteers, with assistance from UNH’s Center for Freshwater Biology (CFB) in Durham, the program evaluates water samples for phosphorus levels, clarity, and algae growth. Recently, monitors have also begun looking for evidence of cyanobacteria.

Less well known is the fact that there’s a regular monitoring and testing effort going on along the watershed’s more than two dozen streams. While lake monitoring occurs on a weekly basis throughout the warm-weather months, stream sampling occurs after main rain events, when water in the tributaries is running strong.

Because streams are the principal sources of water in the lakes, it’s important to know the state of their health and to spot any serious changes in the level of minerals and sediments that they may be carrying. At the moment, stream testing focuses on a single important element: phosphorus.

After a heavy rain, while water is still running strong in the tributaries, LLMP volunteers visit each stream at a predetermined point where a gauge has been embedded in the stream bottom. In addition to taking a water sample at those locations, the volunteers record the water level as shown on the gauge. That information helps CFB scientists estimate the amount of phosphorus likely to enter the lakes and raises a red flag if the amount is higher than usual.

With so many streams to monitor, having a corps of ready volunteers makes stream testing easier and more effective. The Wentworth Watershed Association is looking for volunteers to join several monitoring teams, each of which would be responsible for sampling a handful of nearby streams.

Anyone interested in joining a monitoring team or obtaining more information can call Rich Masse at 603-498-4968 or reach him by email at rich.masse@moosepoint.org.