One of Channelkeeper’s longest running and most successful programs is our Stream Team citizen water quality monitoring program, which to date has educated and engaged more than 1,000 volunteers in helping us conduct monthly water quality sampling at 47 stream sites in the watersheds of the Goleta Valley, Carpinteria Valley and Ventura River. Our Stream Team data is used by government agencies to inform pollution prevention programs and water resource management decisions. We’ve identified numerous pollution hot spots and sources through Stream Team sampling and have worked cooperatively with the relevant government agencies to get these problems cleaned up.
The goals of Channelkeeper’s Stream Team Program are to collect and disseminate data to measure the health of local streams; identify and abate specific sources of pollution to these streams; measure trends or changes resulting from pollution prevention efforts; and foster environmental stewardship in our community by providing a rewarding outdoor volunteer opportunity for local citizens. Our ultimate goal is cleaner, healthier water and a more environmentally responsible citizenry that is actively engaged in addressing the pollution problems plaguing our waterways.
Stream Team sampling events take place once a month, usually on the first weekend. Ventura Stream Team is on Saturdays and Goleta Stream Team is on Sundays. Please visit the calendar page for upcoming Stream Team sampling dates.
Each month, Stream Team volunteers test common water quality parameters at sites throughout the Ventura River, Goleta Slough and Carpinteria Valley watersheds. Volunteers use portable meters to test in-stream parameters such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, and conductivity. In addition, samples are collected that are later analyzed in the laboratory for bacteria and nutrients. Visual observations such as weather conditions, algae coverage, water clarity, odors, and trash are also recorded on standardized datasheets. We follow rigorous Quality Assurance/Quality Control protocols that are based on a Quality Assurance Project Plan approved by the State Water Resources Control Board.
Our Stream Team program has already had lasting beneficial impacts. Our monitoring has helped us locate and eliminate significant pollution sources to local waterways. Government programs to protect water quality also benefit from the data we collect. For example, after compiling and submitting our Stream Team water quality data to the State Water Board, the Board added 16 streams to their official List of Impaired Waterbodies. Regional Water Boards are required to develop specific regulatory programs, called Total Maximum Daily Loads, to reduce the impairing pollutants in each waterbody on this list such that they no longer exceed water quality standards. Therefore, 16 polluted streams in our area will now be cleaned up thanks to our Stream Team data.
In addition to helping government agencies protect water quality, our Stream Team Program offers a fun, educational and rewarding community service opportunity for local citizens. Stream Team provides a regular, accessible hands-on outdoor volunteer experience that allows participants to explore their own watershed firsthand, often for the first time. Through this experience, they develop a connection with their local streams and watershed and gain a sense of pride in community service. Our volunteers become watershed stewards and educate their peers about local water quality issues, creating a ripple effect that generates heightened environmental awareness, more environmentally conscious behaviors, and support for stronger environmental policies throughout our community.