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  • Suresh Venkatraman

Checking Out Our Local Water

Linda Ziff with GreenTown Los Altos partnered with Jeremy Merckling and Erin Banks Rusby of Grassroots Ecology Saturday, March 10, to host the annual World Water Monitoring Challenge and learn about good water management and check the quality of the water in Permanente Creek at Heritage Oaks Park. This year we still have water in the creek, so it is actually living up to its name! This hands-on event attracted volunteers ranging from Montclaire Brownie Troop 62880 to a Foothill College student studying Environmental Biology. Two Americorps Watershed Stewards, Rachel Clemons and Devon Jackson, demonstrated the Enviroscape and described how pollutants get into our water and how to prevent it. Of course, you don’t want any litter to get into the storm drains, or use too much fertilizer and you should pick up after your dog, but here’s something you might not consider – don’t brake hard when you drive. The wear and tear on brake linings shed copper and that is very harmful to certain aquatic life.

The next station in the day’s program was looking at water bugs that live in a creek. Peering though a hand-held magnifying glass revealed all sorts of squiggly bugs. The kids loved it. The number and types of bugs are important measures of the health of a creek, according to Sara Witt with Grassroots Ecology. Some bugs can survive poor water quality, so if that is the only bug you see, watch out.

Next, the volunteers conducted measurements at four stations, learning about the dissolved oxygen, temperature, turbidity and pH of the water. The results are shared around the world as part of the World Water Monitoring Challenge. The challenge, started in 2003, is an international effort to build awareness and protect water resources everywhere.

So how did we do? Right now, our creek is in reasonable shape, but this is another dry year so by the end of the summer… it will likely be a dry creek.

~ Gary Hedden

Rachel and Devon showing how water collects to form a watershed

Sara having fun with the bugs

Rachel getting the group ready to test for dissolved oxygen

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