before you get started


Must meet with representative from the Allegheny Watershed Alliance to learn how to properly fill out survey and understand sampling procedures. 

Must have access to a smartphone or tablet.


A link to the survey will be provided once you or your group have met with AWA. Paper field sheets will also be provided in case the survey is unable to load in the field. 


The AWA will lease any field equipment your group may need, which may be some or all of the following: meter stick, measuring tape, pH/conductivity handheld meter, field kits (alkalinity, chloride, sulfate), kick net and bucket. 


Your group should have several things in place before sampling begins. The AWA can provide any support you may need to help make your monitoring efforts easy and successful. 

  1. Choose a point person to organize monitoring efforts.
  2. Research any existing data/monitoring efforts. Another group or agency may have completed monitoring in the past. 
  3. An understanding of what you are sampling and why you are sampling. 
  4. A sampling plan: Who is sampling and what is being sampled?
  5. Maps with sampling locations identified
  6. Permission from landowner if needed
  7. Make sure all participating volunteers understand monitoring plan and procedures.


Some people in your group may not be interested in monitoring. That is okay! Only those folks who are truly interested in monitoring should be involved so the program is a success.

Know what you're measuring


Conductivity: Water’s ability to pass an electrical current. Salty water has a high measure, telling of pollutant discharges.

Dissolved Oxygen: A measure of available oxygen for critters to use. The higher the amount the better.

Nitrate: Influences the growth of algae. Excess levels come from stormwater or agricultural runoff.


Sulfates: Decreases pH of water making it hard for aquatic life to survive. An indicator of abandoned mine drainage.

Chloride: The measure of salt from road salt, wastewater, and irrigation water. Harmful to fish and drinking water.

Flow: The heartbeat of a stream. Helps to connect pollutant conditions with the level and speed of water.


Phosphates:  Fuels aquatic plant growth. Too much growth can limit oxygen availability for fish.

pH: A measure of how acidic or basic water is (0-14 scale). Lower numbers are more acidic

Alkalinity: Measure of water’s ability to buffer acidity, related to pH.



Let us know when you're
ready to get in the stream.