In 2001, Channelkeeper launched the Ventura River Stream Team Program in partnership with the Ventura Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and we have been managing and implementing the program ever since. The program engages volunteers in conducting monthly water quality sampling at up to 20 sites on the Ventura River itself as well as its major tributaries. You can view data, pictures, and site descriptions for our Ventura Stream Team sites through our “Explore and Download our Data” page.
Each month, teams of volunteers measure physical and chemical parameters (dissolved oxygen, turbidity, conductivity, pH, temperature, and flow) in the field using portable hand-held instruments. Water samples are also collected at each site and are processed later that day in Channelkeeper’s laboratory for three indicator bacteria using approved standard methodology (Colilert-18 and Enterolert-24, manufactured by Idexx Laboratories; US-EPA). Additional samples are analyzed for nutrients (ammonium, nitrite plus nitrate, orthophosphate, total dissolved nitrogen and particulate carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus) through cooperation with the Santa Barbara Channel – Long Term Ecological Research Project (SBC-LTER) at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Visual observations of trash, aquatic life, and site conditions are also recorded monthly at each site. To ensure quality control, all meters are checked and calibrated against factory standards prior to every sampling event, and Channelkeeper follows a State approved Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP).
Citizen volunteers are a critical element in the success of Ventura River Stream Team. As of November 2013 nearly 600 volunteers have participated in the program, contributing almost 8,000 hours of time. Volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds, from college and high school students to environmental scientists. While some volunteers come to earn community service hours for school, most participate to gain experience and knowledge and to make a contribution to their community.
Stream Team data is used by government agencies, consulting firms, environmental organizations, and other watershed stakeholders to help protect the watershed and the species that depend on it.
Some of the Ventura River Stream Team program’s successes include:
- Submittal and integration of data into the State’s biennial water quality assessment leading to the addition of waterways to the 303(d) List of Impaired Water Bodies.
- Integration into the State’s development of a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the algae impairment in the Ventura River.
- Compilation of survey data revealing the massive problem of illegal dumping and sedimentation occurring in the lower Ventura River, sparking action by community groups and municipalities to address the sources.
- Discovery of agricultural discharges that led to improvements in farm best management practices.
- Establishment of the most comprehensive baseline ambient water quality dataset for the watershed in existence, spanning over a decade.
- Contributed to the Ventura Watershed Council’s Watershed Management Plan.
- Data from Stream Team trash surveys of the lower Ventura River Estuary lead to a broad-scale effort to modify the Trash TMDL and reduce trash in the watershed. Check out our Watchdog Diaries video on this subject here.