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The Illinois RiverWatch Network safeguards the future of Illinois rivers and streams through stewardship, education and sound science. RiverWatch utilizes trained volunteers to collect quality assured data on wadeable streams and fosters coordination among groups involved in similar monitoring efforts.
The Illinois RiverWatch Network is a volunteer monitoring initiative coordinated by the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC). RiverWatch is the onlySTATEWIDE biological monitoring program that provides volunteers a hands-on opportunity to become stewards of our local waterways. The program was originally established in 1995 and has since expanded to the statewide level, with over 200 committed Illinoisans monitoring streams annually.
- Goal The primary goal of the program is to provide consistent high-quality data that can be used by scientists to measure how the conditions of our state's streams are changing over time; to educate and inform Illinois citizens about the ecology and importance of Illinois water resources; and to provide an opportunity for citizens to become involved in the stewardship of their state's rivers and streams.
- Get involved! What do volunteers do? RiverWatch Citizen Scientists are trained to conduct an annual habitat and biological survey of their adopted stream site(s) between May 1 and June 30. They collect and identify small organisms living in the stream (e.g., aquatic worms, snails, dragonfly nymphs) that display varying tolerances to pollution and habitat changes and are important indicators of stream health. Long-term, consistent monitoring of a site will allow us to determine if the water quality is improving or getting worse over time.
- Where will you monitor? RiverWatch monitoring procedures are developed for small to medium size, wadeable streams. Citizen Scientists adopt a 200-foot stretch of stream to monitor based on personal interest or proximity to their job, home or school. The program coordinator can also assist with site selection.
- What happens to the data? Data sheets and macroinvertebrate samples are submitted to the RiverWatch Office by September 30 for record keeping and verification. Volunteer data is entered into the online RiverWatch database. Data is available to the public and can be downloaded from the database.
- Who can participate? RiverWatch welcomes families, schools, organizations, community groups, youth groups, and interested individuals! No prior experience is required.
- How much will it cost to join? While we charge a small, one-time workshop fee, there are no membership fees. Refresher workshops are offered each spring to trained volunteers at no cost. Monitoring equipment can be borrowed from any one of our 50 loaner kit locations.
- How to join...it's as easy as 1-2-3! 1. Contact Vera at 618-468-4870 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information and to be added to our mailing list.2. Become a certified Citizen Scientist by attending a training workshop in the spring. Bring along a friend, family member, or neighbor so that you have a monitoring partner.3. Commit to monitoring a stream site annually between May 1 and June 30.