Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Citizen Water Monitoring Training Offered

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Teaming Up With Local Residents to Count Bugs

It sounds like childs play to get in a stream and count bugs. And, according to Linda Drage, President of Friends of Philpott Lake, it is a lot of fun. But it has a serious side too. This is about taking measure of the water quality around Philpott Reservoir, she says, something everyone in the area has a stake in.

Mary Lawson, Conservation Biologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), works at Philpott Reservoir. She is partnering with the Friends of Philpott Lake and the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) to develop a water quality plan for the reservoir. A key component of that plan includes recruiting and training volunteers on something called macro-invertebrate water monitoring. Thats right: counting bugs. Turns out that the numbers and kinds of macro-invertebrates living in streams is an indication of the streams health.

To find out how that works, the public is invited to an informational meeting at the Philpott Lake Visitor Assistance Center, 1058 Philpott Dam Road, on Saturday, January 31 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A light lunch will be served. Volunteer monitors are the eyes and the ears of a watershed. There is a story in the water that is waiting to be told, says Wayne Kirkpatrick, a volunteer monitor for Virginia Save Our Streams and the Virginia Citizens for Water Quality, as well as Vice President of DRBA.

This community effort will broaden the USACEs capacity to care for the lake and engage with local citizens to protect local resources. Lawson says her hopes are that this program will encourage the lakes neighbors to help prevent pollution in the watershed. Adults and children from church groups to scouts to individuals are encouraged to participate. Much of the initiative is made possible with funding from the Virginia Environmental Endowment and support from the Friends of Philpott Lake. Drage says The Friends of Philpott are committed to facilitating community involvement to help Philpott Lake remain a high quality natural and recreational resource. This meeting will introduce a great way to participate. The lunch and session, made possible with support from the Virginia Environmental Endowment, is free, but participants are encouraged to register by noon on Thursday, January 29. To register or for more information, contact Linda Drage, Friends of Philpott Lake, 276-681-6805 or

Photo & Press Release contributed by: Ellen Jessee
Posted by: Jennifer Doss

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