October 14, 2011

Polk County Snapshot: Volunteer Monitoring Event to Evaluate Water Quality in Polk County

The Des Moines Chapter of Izaak Walton League will coordinate the 2011 fall Polk County Snapshot event. Partners for the Snapshot include the Izaak Walton League, Iowa Environmental Council, State Hygienic Laboratory and Des Moines Water Works. Volunteers do not need experience to participate. Sampling is done in groups of two to four people, and we try to make sure at least one experienced volunteer (someone who is a trained by IOWATER or has done the snapshot before) is with each group. 

Water monitoring of Polk County rivers, streams, ponds and lakes is conducted in the spring and fall.  In sampling events held the past 7 years, volunteers helped collect water samples at over 70 sites throughout the county.  For safety reasons, it is required that there is a minimum of 2 people per team.  Children under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult. 

Volunteers should register with Mike Delaney at [email protected] or (515) 339-0438.

Volunteers will meet at the Izaak Walton League, 4343 George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines, IA to get their site assignments, sampling gear and instructions. 

What is a snapshot?  A snapshot is a view of water quality within a short time frame. It involves sampling the water in a specific location from your local creek, stream, river or lake. Most snapshots usually require about six hours.

Who participates?  Anyone can participate… teachers, students, city and county employees, concerned community members, clubs and other group organizations… both young and seasoned volunteers alike! Anyone with an interest in water quality in Central Iowa is encouraged to get involved.

Why are Snapshots conducted?  To learn more about the quality of our source waters and ways we can help improve them.

What do you find in a snapshot?  Results have shown that most streams in the metro area are impaired with pollutants from agricultural operations, urban runoff and human wastewater. Nearly all metro streams contain numbers of disease-causing E. coli bacteria, nitrate and phosphorus at levels well beyond the safe standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

How can I get involved?  It’s easy! Just contact Mike Delaney at [email protected] or (515) 339-0438.

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