John Graham says he needs help to protect Columbia County's streams and creeks.
On Dec. 3, Graham, a retired entomologist and the volunteer coordinator of Columbia County's Adopt-a-Stream program, will hold an introductory workshop to Adopt-a-Stream at the Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue station on Oakley Pirkle Road in Martinez.
"What we're doing with this training program ... is introduce new volunteers to the Adopt-a-Stream concept," Graham said. "In that regard, they will learn what their obligations are for a year."
According to Georgia Adopt-a-Stream, obligations for volunteers include visual and physical evaluation of the stream for erosion, sedimentation and excessive nutrients; biological monitoring; and chemical monitoring.
Prospective volunteers should be prepared for about two hours of work per month, Graham said.
Biological monitoring involves collecting debris from the water and examining and sorting the macro-invertebrates - including fresh water mollusks, crustaceans, insects and worms that live in the samples, Graham said.
"Some of these invertebrates are sensitive to pollution, some are moderately insensitive and others are very insensitive to pollution; that is, they can exist in fairly polluted waters normally," Graham said.
Macro-invertebrates, those that might be seen with the naked eye, do not require specialized equipment to detect and catalog.
"By taking these critters out of the water and then sorting them," Graham said, "we can grade them by their sensitivity and come up with a score that allows us to determine the overall quality of the stream from a biological point of view."
"Even a ... newcomer, a kid, can recognize them right away," Graham said. "They see them there and know it's something to be collected."
New Adopt-a-Stream volunteers also will learn how to conduct pH testing and electrolyte monitoring.
Testing pH determines a stream's level of acidity, and electrolyte monitoring indicates electrical conductivity, which might be an indicator of fecal-coliform bacteria or heavy mineral content.
Graham said high levels of electrolytes are not uncommon in streams in urban areas.
The Dec. 3 workshop will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The fire station was chosen for the meeting because it borders Crawford Creek.
Space for the Getting Started workshop is limited, and reservations must be made with Graham in advance.
For more information about being an Adopt-a-Stream volunteer, contact Graham at email@example.com.
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