Citizen Monitoring

The Stream Team Kicks Off 10th Season of Monitoring--You're Invited!

The Stream Team collects data from Big Chico Creek that is used to inform local and regional resource management decisions by providing baseline water quality data. The Stream Team tracks  long-term trends in watershed health associated with land use practices used to reduce non-point source pollution including creek-side restoration (Verbena Fields).

Non-point source pollution has been identified as one of our nation's largest remaining water quality problems. It's not caused by discharges from big factories or from sewage treatment plants, but is generated by all of us as a result of the choices we make in our everyday lives (EPA, 2003).

Non-point source pollution from over-fertilizing lawns, letting oil drip from our cars, littering, paving parking lots, and reducing pervious surfaces are human practices causing cumulative impacts to water quality in Big Chico Creek. Population growth in the Sacramento Valley is projected to double by 2040 (Johnson & Hayes, 2004), which implies that associated sources of non-point source pollutants from small tributaries, such as Big Chico Creek, will become increasingly important to pinpoint and control.

For this reason, The Stream Team encourages volunteers to become more aware of the effects their actions have on water quality, while also developing water-wise habits and making informed choices. All of these are important to ensure clean water is available in the future.

Overview of Monitoring Program

The Big Chico Creek Watershed Citizen Monitoring Program provides opportunities for the public to participate in watershed monitoring and restoration efforts, to encourage public understanding of the ecological function of watersheds, and urban runoff pollution sources including easy measures they can take to prevent pollution from entering local waterways. These efforts are closely linked with the goals of the City of Chico Storm Water Management Program, and the City of Chico Park Division Volunteer Program, as well as the educational needs of local schools.

Our mission is to gather useful environmental information needed to protect the ecological health of the Big Chico Creek watershed, while engaging the local community in effective watershed stewardship.

A variety of cumulative impacts can stress aquatic systems and impair their beneficial functions. Non-point source pollutants can flow from the land into creeks including sediment, synthetic materials from our roads and automobiles, fertilizers, nutrients, sewage leaks, and animal wastes. Creek monitoring provides useful baseline information that can be used to track these potential impacts. Baseline information collected now will help facilitate the ability to track changes over time and help prioritize efforts for identifying sources of pollutants, and appropriate land use changes needed to minimize impacts.

Healthy creek systems like Big Chico Creek are integral to the overall function of the Sacramento River ecosystem and are important for providing safe drinking water, ground water recharge, flood control, critical habitat for listed and endangered fish and wildlife, and provide intrinsic scenic value to our community.

Thanks to the amazing work and dedication of citizen volunteers, over 20,000 hours of community service have been provided, and six consecutive years of stream data has been collected, forming a baseline of information useful for tracking long-term trends in watershed condition cumulatively resulting from restoration activities, land management changes, and natural processes.

Citizen Monitoring Program Work Plan, Year 2010 -2013

Download the 13 page report here.

2010 Citizen Monitoring Program Final Report

Download the 54 page report here.

2005-2008 Data Report

Download the 22 page report here.

2005 Monitoring Articles

Aquatic Insect Surveys (Bioassessment)
Volunteers use the latest California Stream Bioassessent Procedures, and surveys are conducted each Spring and Fall.

Water Chemistry Data
Volunteers measured water chemistry at each monthly monitoring station.

Temperature Data Loggers
Continuous temperature data loggers were installed in pools where spring-run salmon are known to be present.

Volunteers measured water velocity and stream deaths at three cross sections, and then calculated stream discharge (CFS) values using the “float method.”

Photo Documentation
Volunteers take photographs upstream and downstream at each monitoring station to document stream conditions during the day they collected information.

Stream Team
Here's a list of volunteers and other participants in the Big Chico Creek Volunteer Monitoring Program through 2005.