The Creek Watch Program consists of a group of trained citizen scientists that observes the Wissahickon Watershed at the direction of the WVWA. Creek Watchers are assigned a section of public land (over 30 creek sections) throughout the watershed and visits their assigned sections once a month. This program is a larger expansion of the WVWA’s Stream Monitoring and Assessment Program (Stream MAP). Stream MAP monitors 11 sites throughout the Watershed four times a year; previously leaving much of the Watershed without observation.
The goal of the Creek Watch program is the development of a network of trained volunteers that will help improve the habitat and water quality of the Wissahickon Creek through:
Early detection of environmental concerns: As the ‘eyes and ears of the Wissahickon,’ Creek Watchers are trained to recognize conditions (e.g. erosion) and report to the WVWA, or in the case of urgent conditions (e.g. fish kills) report them to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The presence of citizen scientists will increase the WVWA’s ability to correct issues throughout the watershed (e.g. contacting municipalities to unblock man-made structures to reduce flooding).
- Collection of field data: Improving the WVWA and public’s understanding of the challenges, patterns, and changes overtime in the Wissahickon Watershed through collected data and pictures. This data will help the WVWA determine areas in need of restoration, new signage, and targeted education and outreach.
- Trained eyes: The promotion of more trained eyes throughout the Watershed will have incalculable positive impacts. Every Creek Watcher’s time will help the Wissahickon, whether it is picking up a piece of trash, talking with a fellow trail user about erosion in the creek, or noticing a new animal using the creek.
- Education and outreach: Creek Watchers will be invited to attend an on-going lecture series provided by the WVWA on the Wissahickon ecology, cultural importance, policies, and other topics.
- Representation as ambassadors: The citizen scientists in this program will become Wissahickon Creek Ambassadors. They will share the information that they learn from the WVWA and encourage positive behaviors throughout the Wissahickon, both in the field, in their community, and at home. This group will be key in promoting the long-term protection and restoration of the Wissahickon Watershed.
The Creek Watch Program is part of a regional effort to improve Philadelphia area watersheds (Wissahickon, Pennypack, Tookany, Poquessing, and Cobbs Creek) through funding provided by the William Penn Foundation. Together, through monitoring, restoration, education and outreach efforts, we can improve the Wissahickon!