SOS Monitoring

SOS Monitoring

You can help Save Our Streams with your own stream monitoring, conservation, and education projects. Below are some suggestions and links to step-by-step instructions and other resources.

Monitor Water Quality

  • Become a Save Our Streams Monitor: Save Our Streams biological monitoring is a fun, easy, and accurate way to assess water quality. The Izaak Walton League provides information How Do I Start a Water Quality Monitoring Group to help you get started.
  • Become a Creek Freaks Leader: Creek Freaks are groups of middle school kids who perform stream monitoring in their communities. Adult leaders are trained in Creek Freaks activities and lead the groups as they monitor streams using biological, physical, and chemical methods and then upload their data and photos to the Creek Freaks Web site. See Creek Freaks for more information.

Our new video guide to identifying macroinvertebrates (embedded below) will help your program volunteers become bug ID experts (or at least be able to tell a dragonfly from a dobsonfly). Includes photos and illustrations of the critters we use to measure water quality, plus identifying features and interesting tidbits. Hosted by IWLA Clean Water Program Director Leah Miller.

Clean Up and Stabilize Streams

  • Organize a Clean-up: It is important to keep the area around local waterways clean so trash doesn’t interfere with fish, wildlife and recreation. Trash pick-ups are easy to plan and allow the entire community to participate. This is also an excellent first step for volunteers who may later get involved in stream monitoring, restoration, or advocacy efforts. For a detailed guide to watershed cleanups, click here (PDF).
  • Construct a Litter Skimmer: Litter skimmers use recycled materials to capture floating trash without blocking stream flow. Install skimmers along local streams and visit them periodically to collect accumulated trash.
  • Stabilize Streambanks: Enhancement and restoration of streambanks can help you improve your stream’s health. Planting trees, re-grading steep banks to a gentler slope, and placing cuttings of fast-rooting native plants in the banks can all help stabilize streambanks, stop excess erosion, and reduce sediment pollution. The League’s Handbook for Wetlands Conservation and Sustainability, found on the Stream and Wetlands Publications page, is a great introduction to all of these techniques and more.

Solve Watershed Problems at the Cause

  • Advocate for Better Watershed Protection: Local, state and federal regulations have largely protected streams from sewage, factory waste, and other forms of pollution. Stream advocates are always needed to make sure these regulations are not rolled back. We also need to advocate for better protections against pollution washed into streams by rain runoff. As federal water pollution issues arise, the League's on-line advocacy center is a useful tool for communicating with your Representatives and Senators.
  • Become a Sediment Control Scout: Sediment is the leading factor in stream degradation today. It smothers aquatic organisms and fish eggs, clogs fish gills, prevents light from reaching aquatic plants, and can lead to flooding. If you live in an area where development is increasing, sediment inspectors may appreciate your help finding violations on building sites. Start by becoming familiar with your state laws on sediment control. You can scout for sediment violations while driving around running errands or taking a walk in the neighborhood. More information about sediment regulations can be found here.
  • Slow Down Stormwater: In urban and suburban areas, rain water hits paved surfaces and runs immediately into streams, carrying pollutants from lawns and roads and causing flash floods and bank erosion. You can reduce the volume of stormwater runoff and conserve water by installing a rain barrel to capture water and reuse it to water your lawn. Another great way to slow down and filter stormwater is to build a rain garden in your yard, on Izaak Walton League chapter grounds, or at a local school.

Educate Your Community

  • Display Information: Display information about Save Our Streams at the county fair or other community event.  You can provide interesting hands-on activities for visitors to your booth, such as a How to Build a Bug Aquarium or preserved specimens of aquatic insects and crustaceans. Contact us at 800-BUG-IWLA or for fact sheets and other handouts.
  • Publicize Events: Local stream activities can be good press events - they involve people from the community working together to protect resources where they live. Always invite the press to your events and send pictures and an event summary as a follow-up. For more information on contacting the media, click here.
  • Connect Children to Streams: Save Our Streams activities are great ways to get children outside and learning about nature. Children can help monitor water quality, clean up streams, and perform other hands-on projects. For more ideas and resources, visit Other Resources.

Tell Us About Your Activities

Tell us about your stream-saving activities. Let us know the what, when, where, why and how of your events and activities.

Need More Help?

We hope you are able to find within this website the tools you need to conserve America’s waters. If you have additional questions, please contact us at 800-BUG-IWLA or

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