Water Quality Monitoring
A grant from the Rose Foundation for Communities and Environment, and assistance from Balance Hydrologics, Urban Creeks Council, and Kier Associates, has enabled us to install automated monitors of flow, temperature, and conductivity in Codornices Creek. See our live Codornices Creek data on-line!
These data dramatically show the "flashiness" of urban creeks. As cities cover land with roofs and streets, rain no longer lingers on leaves or soaks into soil. It runs straight to storm drains and creeks, carrying urban pollutants with it. Creeks rise with frightening swiftness, eroding banks, scouring channels deeper, and sweeping away plants and small water creatures.
Friends of Five Creeks also does periodic sampling, especially for sewage or chloramine pollution, with the assistance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 lab. If you would like to help with monitoring, contact us.
We also have used techniques like counting numbers and types of insect larvae, a useful quick gauge to health of a creek.
Monitoring has many uses. Knowledge of flow, for example, helps in designing restored creek channels. Our temperature records show that Codornices Creek is cool enough for fish like trout and salmon year round, while Cerrito Creek is not. We can set our goals accordingly. And of course, monitoring detects and documents pollution, enabling us to seek corrective action. Our monitoring has led to repair of broken sewer lines and action to require East Bay MUD to lessen discharges of muddy water like the one pictured at the bottom of this page.
Keith Alcock assembled the following information regarding monitoring the physical and chemical characteristics of our creeks as part of founding our water quality monitoring program in 1995: