Water Quality Monitoring
It is vital that researchers know the condition of the ecosystem that they are working with at both baseline (before the implementation of any projects), and post-construction levels. Water quality data is collected by many people throughout the watershed. The majority of the sampling has been conducted by Ohio University and Vinton County Soil and Water Conservation District Staff, assisted by students, ODNR Division of Mineral Resources employees, and volunteer monitors. These individuals collect water quality data at many sites throughout the watershed. At each site, flow (the amount of water moving through the channel), field data, and water samples are taken. Flow is measured in a variety of ways; by constricting the water through a gauged metal flume, by measuring discharge from a pipe or culvert per unit of time, and by using assorted flow meters. Field data, including pH, conductivity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen, is gathered through data sondes and chemistry kits used at the site. Water samples are carefully taken from the stream and sent to a laboratory for analysis. The lab measures many chemical parameters of the water including pH, acidity, alkalinity, conductivity, metals, and more. These results are used to track changes in water quality over time.
The following sites provide water quality and flow data, as well as AMD project details.
USGS Gauging Stations
“Real-time data typically are recorded at 15-60 minute intervals, stored onsite, and then transmitted to USGS offices every 1 to 4 hours. Recording and transmission times may be more frequent during critical events. Data from real-time sites are relayed to USGS offices via satellite, telephone, and/or radio and are available for viewing within minutes of arrival.”
The 2006 Comprehensive Non-point Source (NPS) monitoring report details data trends from the baseline conditions of the four main AMD impacted watersheds in the area; Raccoon Creek, Monday Creek, Sunday Creek, and Huff run. The report also details completed, as well as proposed projects in the watersheds and their projected impacts.
Online Water Quality Database
The Raccoon Creek Partners have been collecting water quality information throughout the Raccoon Creek Watershed over the past decade. That data has been organized and stored in a master database which is now accessible to the public online. The database is linked with a map viewer so the user can easily find water quality information for the specific area of interest. The online database also allows remote entry of data for Raccoon Creek Partners to allow for more up-to-date data availability and access.
You Can Help Monitor the Health of Raccoon Creek!
Would you like to help monitor the improvement of the Raccoon Creek Watershed? If so, become a Volunteer Monitor! See our Volunteer Monitoring page for more information.
Meadow Run Water Quality and Bacteria Investigation
Meadow Run is a tributary to Little Raccoon Creek in Jackson County that flows through the Village of Wellston. In January of 2007 a complaint was received by the Jackson County Health Department from a landowner who lives adjacent to Meadow Run. The nature of the complaint involved flooding issues on the property, concern about pollutants in the creek, the potential of a human health hazard related to bacteria from untreated or poorly treated sewage, and odor generated from the stream around the property.
It was apparent during the investigation that Meadow Run contains untreated or poorly treated sewage/wastewater by the odor and color of the stream water and high density of algae in many locations. Data collected during this investigation in Meadow Run documents high levels of E. Coli bacteria which is a serious human health risk. At four of the five sampling locations, E. Coli concentrations exceed water quality standards, and at three of these sites E. Coli concentrations are four to eight times the state water quality standards. It should be noted that during the sampling event, children were seen playing in the stream that had E. Coli concentrations of over 10,000 cfu/100 ml. Potential sources of bacteria contamination include overflow from plugged wastewater pump stations, and possible unsewered areas in Wellston, or upstream of Wellston in the Meadow Run headwaters. Further investigation by the Raccoon Creek Partnership, Jackson County Health Department, the City of Wellston, and Ohio EPA is needed to determine the cause and source of the untreated wastewater entering Meadow Run, the true extent of its contamination, the risks to both public health and aquatic life, and to establish the necessary steps to remediate the problem.
Sediment Total Maximum Daily Load for the Upper Basin of Raccoon Creek
An earlier overlooked provision in the Clean Water Act began getting attention in the 1990s for its potential to curb non-point source pollution. The Total Maximum Daily
Load (TMDL) program is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards.
Raccoon Creek Upper Basin’s initial TMDL plan was completed in 2002 and focused primarily on acid mine drainage. Implementing that plan is the responsibility of local watershed groups and is of great value in the cleanup of Raccoon Creek’s acid mine drainage. Researchers are now monitoring portions of the watershed in response to a TMDL focusing on sediment loads. As work continues in the basin to improve water quality, and ultimately biological health, all factors that limit water quality standards must be addressed to return streams to their potential aquatic life status. Therefore, the need to address sediment and siltation issues is critical. The sediment TMDL report serves to document sediment issues throughout the watershed, set measurable targets/indicators, and develop an implementation plan to restore and protect the water body by the local watershed partnership. This TMDL study addresses the occurrence and transport of in-channel sediment in the Raccoon Creek Upper Basin, a 386 square mile sub-basin within the Raccoon Creek Watershed. The goals of this study were:
- to assess the occurrence of sediment as a habitat impairment in the Raccoon Creek Upper Basin.
- to explore linkages between and among channel sedimentation, sediment transport, and channel behavior.
- to develop a process-based surrogate target for the maximum daily sediment load below which no further deterioration of the aquatic life use of local stream systems would occur.
- to lay out an implementation strategy for improving habitat related to sediment/substrate impairments in the Upper Basin of Raccoon Creek.
Monitoring before and after implementation is critical to measure the potential success of restoration or protection projects and that data should be used to revisit and update the TMDL through an ongoing process.
To view the report in its entirety, please visit the following link.
Sediment Total Maximum Daily Load for the Upper Basin of Raccoon Creek