Check out the Monitoring Photo Gallery to see Pierce Run chemical and biological monitoring in progress!
Monitoring for the Pierce Run AMD Remediation project will entail both pre-construction and post-construction monitoring at the Oreton Seep site as well as on the mainstem of both Pierce Run and Raccoon Creek. The purpose for project site data is to evaluate performance of passive AMD systems and to make needed adjustments. The purpose for Pierce Run and Raccoon Creek mainstem monitoring will be to evaluate the project’s effect on restoring impaired waters.
Data collection will consist of water chemistry (field chemistry - pH, temperature, Dissolved Oxygen, Conductivity; and grab samples which are sent to the ODNR lab for analysis - metals, acidity, alkalinity, etc.) and flow measurements at a total of 18 sites. Biological monitoring will include fish, habitat, and macroinvertebrate surveys at a total of 10 sites.
Macroinvertebrate Aggregated Index for Streams (MAIS) Sampling
Macroinvertebrates (insects, crayfish, worms, snails...) serve as indicators of stream health. In a healthy stream, macroinvertebrate populations will be plentiful, both in total number of organisms and diversity (the number of different types of organisms). In an unhealthy stream, such as the sections of Pierce Run affected by acid mine drainage, only a few, extremely pollution-tolerant creatures will be found.
Throughout the month of July, Raccoon Creek partners have been conducting MAIS sampling throughout the watershed. The Macroinvertebrate Aggregated Index for Streams (MAIS) is a sampling technique based on family level identification of creatures collected from riffles using kick nets, and dip net samples from all other naturally occurring habitats within the sampling reach (leaf packs, deep pools, root mats, aquatic vegetation, etc.). The final score, a number ranging from 0 at poor sites to 20 at good sites is based on multiple metrics including sensitive species richness and feeding style.
Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) Sampling
Like macroinvertebrates, fish can also be used as indicators of aquatic ecosystem health. In August of 2008, Raccoon Creek partners conducted fish sampling throughout the Pierce Run subwatershed to determine the Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) before project implememtation. The IBI score, a number ranging from 12 at very poor quality sites to 60 for sites of exceptional quality, assesses fish community health from three areas: species composition, trophic composition, and fish abundance and condition. Fish are documented through electro-fishing, which uses electricity to temporarily stun the fish for ease of collection. Fish are then sorted by species, counted, weighed, measured, and checked for health and abnormalities. All of this data is used to calculate the final IBI score. These scores will be used as "baseline data" and will be compared to data collected in the future, following the completion of the Pierce Run project, to document stream recovery.
Fish populations were sampled at five sites along the mainstem of Pierce Run. Fish were found at three sites; upstream of the Oreton Seep, below the wetland at Radcliff, and near the mouth. No fish were collected at the two sites downstream of the Oreton Seep (upstream of the Radcliff Wetland). Eight species of fish were identified:
- Bluegill Sunfish
- White Sucker
- Yellow Bullhead
- Grass (redfin) Pickerel
- Largemouth Bass
- Green Sunfish
- Creek Chub
- Longear Sunfish
Upon completion of the Pierce Run Acid Mine Drainage Remediation Project, these sites will be sampled again in order to document any recovery of aquatic health.