Stewards for Duluth Streams

Washburn Middle School Students Monitor Tischer Creek

In celebration of the Year of Water, three area classrooms pledged to monitor water quality in Kingsbury Creek, Tischer Creek, and Chester Creek. In an orientation with resource experts, students explored turbidity, electrical conductivity and other important water quality concepts. They learned how to safely collect water samples and use a 120cm turbidity tube. All classes agreed to watch the weather, and sample their streams before and after rain and snow events. Acting on their pledge, Washburn Middle School students visited Tischer Creek on multiple occasions during the fall of 2002. In addition to using a turbidity tube, they collected water samples to send to NRRI where scientists tested electrical conductivity,

Washburn students are given some tips on how to use water testing kits provided by the National Water Monitoring Day program. TEACHERS - here is a slide show about the web site. You can use off the website or you can download it . (Warning - this is a very large file, 6.7 MB) To start a regular montioring program of your local stream become involved with St. Louis River - Riverwatch or the MPCA Citizen Stream Monitoring Program (see Volunteer Activities)

pH and turbidity (to be correlated with turbidity tube measurements).Data from these samples recorded numerous conductivity “spikes” correlated with rain and snow events, which appear to be caused by increased salts washed from streets and parking lots.

Stewards are engaged in ongoing education through scientific service, and they are aiding understanding of the water resources flowing through their own neighborhoods.

Tisher Creek Data

This graph shows data collected by an electronic stream monitoring unit that measures stream depth, electrical conductivity and turbidity at Tisher Creek every 15 minutes.
This graph shows the electrical conductivity and turbity of water samples collected by students at the Washburn Middle School on several occaisons during the fall of 2002. This graph is for the same time period as the graph of stream monitoring unit data above.

Students measure water clarity using a turbidity tube as Duluth Streams staff member, Jesse Schomberg, looks on.

How do the data compare?

The above graph shows both the Washburn student data and the stream monitoring unit (SMU) data.

You can see that peaks in the data sets correspond but the values of the two data sets are different. Does this mean that one of the data sets is bad? There are several reasons why the two data sets differ. The Washburn samples were collected upstream from the SMU data. In its journey downstream, the stream water had the opportunity to pick up and drop off sediments and other particulates from the stream banks and channel.

Real time data from the Tischer Creek can be animated with online Data Visualization Tools!
Additionally, water from storm sewers, overland flow, and small natural channels entered the stream between two sites during the rain events. This water had the potential to add particulates to the stream or to dilute the dissolved solid content of the water. The addition or dilution of paticulates and dissolved solids to the stream could change the EC25 and the turbidity.

Differing methods of data collection also leads to variabitlity in results.