Adopt-A-Stream Program

Congratulations to the South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream Team! Their Volunteer Freshwater Monitoring Handbook won this year's Silver Award for Long Publication with the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals. The team includes Sierra Hylton, Karin Skipper, and David Chestnut from DHEC, and Katie Callahan and Zach Nemec from Clemson. For more information, visit www.scadoptastream.org

Adopt-A-Stream banner showing kids and adult collecting samples in stream

Are you interested in protecting the health of South Carolina's fresh waters?

Would you like to get involved in citizen science and don't mind getting your feet wet?

Join South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream (SC AAS)

Adopt-a-Stream volunteers make a positive impact by:

  • Using their data for environmental education
  • Protecting and restoring waterbodies
  • Maintaining the health of the watershed

Educators can use the program for reality-based student science.

Families and friends can make a deeper connection with the natural environment.

Volunteers are trained for:

Stream Habitat Assessment (Assessed once a year)

Stream Habitat Assessment is conducted yearly. It is an overall assessment of any changes to your monitoring site. Included are evaluations of bank stability, channel alterations, bank and aquatic vegetation, buffers, and any other observations you notice regarding your adopted stream.

Physical/Chemical Monitoring (Monitored Monthly)

Volunteers will collect the five basic water quality parameters including air temperature, water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity. Volunteers will learn why the chemical parameters are important to aquatic life, the significance of different levels, and how these levels can be affected. Trainers will lead the volunteers through field techniques and check techniques in collecting the sample and using the kits properly. Volunteer monitors will be trained to take duplicate samples for DO and pH, and to evaluate and check measurements, equipment, and reagents. In order to become certified, volunteers will achieve results within the acceptable duplicate precision range of those obtained by the certified Trainers and take a written test. Volunteers are encouraged to sample monthly and must attend a recertification workshop annually. The recertification workshop includes a field based test in addition to a written test.

Bacteria Monitoring (Monitored Monthly)

The bacteria portion of a training workshop focuses on sample collection, plating samples onto 3M Petrifilm™ plates to culture E. coli, and counting the E. coli colonies. The water samples and controls are plated and incubated for 24 hours. At the end of the incubation period, volunteers count and record the bacteria results as well as the maximum and minimum temperatures on their data sheet. In order to become certified in bacteria monitoring, volunteers will be tested on their ability to count bacteria colonies, and demonstrate collecting, plating, and reading the 3M Petrifilm™ plates. Volunteers are encouraged to sample monthly and must attend a recertification workshop annually. The recertification workshop includes a field based test in addition to a written test.

Macroinvertebrate Survey (Surveyed quarterly)

Volunteers will learn to identify macroinvertebrates and will collect samples from a stream. Sample collection methods and habitat types are reviewed, and the rocky bottom and muddy bottom methods for collection sampling are demonstrated. The workshop participants will process the collection, complete the SC AAS data form and tally the macroinvertebrate water quality index value to assign the rating for the health of the stream.

In order to be certified, volunteers will be tested on their ability to identify macroinvertebrates and interpret the results. Volunteers are encouraged to sample quarterly and must be recertified annually to maintain certification. The recertification workshop includes a field based test in addition to a written test.

View upcoming training events

To learn more and sign up for the newsletter, go to scadoptastream.org

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Water