by NATHANIEL NELSON
Water quality is a crucial aspect of a healthy environment, and several organizations are partnering to show Winona citizens how to care for their local streams. Sustain Winona and the Izaak Walton League of America are teaming up for the first Winona Water Day event, to take place this Saturday at Levee Park.
The event will be held from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m on September 22, and attendees will be able to learn about water quality and testing, its importance to the environment and about Winona’s conservation history. Talks will be held at Saint Mary’s University, and the Izaak Walton League will be doing stream-monitoring demonstrations at Gilmore Creek.
Liz Micheel, a biology professor at Minnesota State College Southeast, said she and several other Winona professors began brainstorming the event after attending a Save Our Stream training session in March with the Izaak Walton League. “A large group of us got training to be certified stream monitors in March,” Micheel explained. “Those of us who attended the training really got fired up about it. We all agreed that this is a good one-day protocol.”
The training is based on water-quality protocol developed by the Izaak Walton League in 1969, when Save Our Streams was founded. Samantha Briggs, Save Our Streams manager, said stream monitoring is a crucial part of environmental care that is often overlooked. “According to research, 30 percent of rivers and streams are considered assessed. That means 70 percent are currently undocumented,” Briggs said. “If you don’t have consistent monitoring of all of your stream miles, you’re not going to be able to pinpoint a problem and be able to fix it.”
The stream-monitoring protocol is mostly biological, Briggs said, where citizen monitors use animals to help test the waters. “They pull critters from the stream, and depending on what we find, you can see where the water quality is at,” Briggs explained. For instance, if a stonefly is found, the water is of a higher quality and other healthy organisms will likely be found.
After doing the training herself, Micheel explained that she and a few colleagues got started planning Winona Water Day to provide training and education for the broader public.
“One of the main goals is to show people the citizen science space and recruit them to be stream monitors. There are lots of locations down here that need a citizen monitor,” Micheel explained. The event will also be used to increase support of the science initiatives and promote an awareness for how water quality is an indicator for environmental health, she said. Attendees will be able to learn about water quality and learn more about stream monitoring, in preparation for another set of training sessions on October 6 and 7.
The event is a partnership not just between Sustain Winona and the Izaak Walton League, but also Winona State University, Saint Mary’s University and Minnesota State College Southeast. There will also be booths and presentations from the Winona County Soil and Water Conservation District, Healthy Lake Winona, the city of Winona, Water Bar and Public Studio, and the Whitewater State Park’s LEGO watershed model. “We wanted an event where all of the colleges could partner together and do something,” Micheel stated.
Shuttles will be available to bring people to the Gilmore Creek testing site and to SMU for presentations, as well.
For more information, visit www.sustainwinona.org or contact by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.