The Audubon Naturalist Society Water Quality Monitoring Program is one of the largest and longest-running citizen science programs in the country. Since the early 1990s, the program has operated throughout Montgomery County and in parts of the District of Columbia. For many years, it also operated in northern Virginia.
Where We Monitor
The ANS Water Quality Program has monitoring teams gathering data at 25 sites in Maryland and Washington, D.C. Find out if we are monitoring a stream near you! View interactive map.
How It Works
Teams of volunteer monitors visit these sites to conduct a habitat assessment and to collect and identify benthic macroinvertebrates to the taxonomic level of family. These small organisms, which dwell on the substrate and exhibit a wide range of sensitivity to pollutants and other impacts on the stream, help us determine the health of the stream.
Each team has a designated team leader who takes the lead in aquatic macroinvertebrate identification. New volunteers are teamed up with experienced monitors at a stream site convenient to them.
Monitoring usually takes from three to four hours and occurs during April, July, October and optionally during the winter. Volunteers should be willing to commit to at least two seasons of monitoring. View a video to learn more.
Before going into the field, new monitors should have a basic knowledge of macroinvertebrate identification and stream ecology, either from previous training or by attending ANS's water quality classes in macroinvertebrate identification and stream ecology. Our training classes are free to ANS members and students earning service learning credit; otherwise the fee for each class is $12. Please register in advance.
For information about water quality workshops in Virginia, email Dan Schwartz with the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District.
For more on the story behind the ANS Water Quality Monitoring volunteer program: Beneath the Surface: "Daylighting" ANS Stream Data by Lynda DeWitt (Naturalist Quarterly, Autumn 2011).
The following foundations provide funding for the ANS Water Quality Monitoring Program: Chesapeake Bay Trust, MARPAT Foundation, Inc., The Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, The Summit Fund of Washington, and Wallace Genetic Foundation, Inc.