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Monitoring & Assessment

Stream Monitoring & Assessment Program

The purpose of the WVWA Stream Monitoring & Assessment Program (Stream MAP) is to measure and communicate water quality trends, improve watershed-based conservation land planning and stewardship, and assess habitat conditions and biological communities within the Wissahickon Creek Watershed as indicators of ecosystem health. These trends in data can be used to inform and improve watershed-based strategic planning and resource management decisions.uses key indicators to evaluate water quality, stream habitat and biological conditions. 

Dissolved oxygen content, nutrient levels and biotic integrity indices in the Wissahickon Creek indicate that habitat conditions in the Creek are stressful, due to highly variable flow from drought and flood conditions, erosion and sedimentation. The Creek’s water quality is influenced by wastewater inputs and limited riparian buffers in its headwater areas. Consequently, the diversity and abundance of aquatic insects - particularly sensitive species - is quite limited. Such limitations in biological diversity are generally reflected in other aspects of watershed biology as well, such as amphibians and birds. While the Wissahickon is rather typical of streams in urban and suburban watersheds, it is nonetheless impaired and there is room for improvement and support.

To see the analysis of the important data compiled through WVWA’s Stream MAP work please read WissahickonMapPoster.pdf


The objectives of Stream MAP are to:

  • monitor and report data for water quality, habitat values and aquatic life that can be used as a 'report card' to assess ecosystem "health" of the Wissahickon Creek
  • compile and present the resulting trends in chart, graphs and studies that are easily illustrated and understood by stakeholders including WVWA members, the general public, and those who will make decisions affecting the watershed, such as municipal and county officials
  • coordinate with other organizations to share and take advantage of related data collection efforts

Based on these objectives, the following questions are addressed by Stream MAP on an ongoing basis.

  • How do water quality characteristics, habitat conditions and biological communities differ among WVWA sampling stations with respect to location within the watershed?

  • How do water quality characteristics, habitat conditions and biological communities at fixed WVWA sampling stations change over time?

  • Based on the collected data, does WVWA have a measurable understanding of the manner in which water quality flucutates over time and does samples taken reflect these conditions?

  • What do the data and trends tell us about the ecological health of the Wissahickon Creek watershed and as compared with other neighboring watersheds?

  • What do the data and trends tell us about the nature and location of specific problems within the Wissahickon Creek watershed, sub-watersheds and tributaries?

  • How do these data and trends help identify and support opportunities for actions to improve ecological conditions within the Wissahickon Creek watershed?

It is important to note that the data and trends for in-stream conditions can be directly related to land preservation and watershed protection efforts. The connection between watershed protection, land preservation and measurable improvements in water quality and ecological health in the creek is crucial. It is the essence of WVWA’s Stream MAP efforts. A monitoring program that does this effectively is worth a great deal. It means that WVWA members and prospective members know their support is making a difference.