What bugs tell us about a stream’s health

SSP-jpeg-KY-Energy-LogoSuited up in chest-waders Joanna Ashford stood at the stream edge and frowned at the water. The creek was a little lower than she had hoped, but glancing down the length of the bank she noted several areas of churning water where the stream ran over rocky section of stream bed.

“Who’s ready to catch some bugs?” she said, addressing the group of 5th graders behind her last September.

Ashford is one of seven Kentucky Division of Water Basin Coordinators who go across the Commonwealth educating school-age children on water quality, pollution and best management practices.

During Water Week [PDF], March 19-25, the Energy and Environment Cabinet is highlighting one of the many functions of a basin coordinator.

“One way to learn about your stream’s health is to look at the critters that live in the water,” Ashford said. “Scientists use surveys of aquatic bugs to give us clues as to what problems might be occurring in a creek. We take kids into the water to capture and identify those animals, so that they can see firsthand how healthy a creek or stream is.”

View the full article for more information on stream health in the Land, Air & Water webzine by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

For citizen-scientists interested in learning more about how to sample their creeks and learn about water health, the Kentucky Division of Water and Watershed Watch in KY are organizations that can provide training in water chemistry and aquatic bug sampling, both to individuals and to school groups. For more information, contact your local Basin Coordinator.

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