Back Creek Conservancy volunteers at Project Clean Stream April 2.

Back Creek Conservancy volunteers at Project Clean Stream April 2.

The Back Creek Conservancy’s plans for monitoring this year exist in the context of a $72,000 Watershed Assistance Grant awarded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust in late 2015. Most of the funds will be used to develop a Watershed Action Plan intended to improve the management of stormwater, the main source of nutrients and sediment. But $4,750 of the grant forms the financial core of an effort to establish a firm baseline of quantitative data about the present condition of Back Creek’s water..

As of mid-April 2016, we have pulled together many elements of a successful effort:

  • Prof. Andrew Muller, Professor of Oceanography at the U.S. Naval Academy, has agreed to help set up the QA/QC protocols, train citizen-scientist volunteers, and assist us to interpret the data. Prof. Sally Hornor, formerly at the AACC Environmental Center and founder of Operation Clearwater, and Dr. Pierre Henkert, the scientist who has led the Severn River monitoring for the past 12 years, will also serve as Senior Advisors.
  • We have adopted the rigorous EPA protocol described in Volunteer Estuary Monitoring: A Methods Manual, second edition, 2006, as the basis for the entire program.
  • We have acquired space for a small water quality laboratory, in Suite 104 of the Pacific Building at Port Annapolis Marina, 7076 Bembe Beach Road.
  • We have received the donation of a suitable boat, a 10-foot rigid inflatable with a 6 horsepower outboard motor; the boat is now fully operational.
  • We have purchased a very powerful and reliable monitoring instrument, a “YSI ProDSS, Multiparameter Sampling Instrument.” It is a battery-operated handheld device which accommodates up to four from a wide range of sensors. We plan to sample with four sensors: (1) conductivity and temperature, (2) pH, (3) Dissolved Oxygen, and (4) Turbidity. This instrument is said to be optimal for use by adult volunteers.
  • More than a dozen adults, mostly SUP and kayak devotees, have volunteered for the water monitoring training, and three students—two undergraduates at UMD and one senior at Annapolis High School– want to work as interns on the water quality monitoring this summer.
  • The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and GLEON have permited us to pilot test a new app, Lake Observer, lakeobserver.org, a cell phone and tablet means of capturing and storing water quality data.
  • The Back Creek Conservancy is an active member of the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s effort to ensure that monitoring data meets the quality standards of the Chesapeake Bay Program.

Engaging volunteers
We have only just begun, but a few of our efforts thus far: