Water quality in different bodies of water in the College Creek watershed will tell us "how we're doing". Is water quality good? Is it bad? Is it variable from season to season? Do we need to do anything about it? As of January 2005, we have established 23 stations in the College Creek watershed for sampling water on a quarterly basis.
When we sample, we measure water temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, salinity, and acidity. We also bring water samples back to the Keck Environmental Field Laboratory at the College of William and Mary to analyze for suspended sediment load, fecal coliform bacteria, and nutrient levels. Sediments, bacteria, and nutrients-specifically nitrogen-are the major contaminants found in the streams and lakes of our watershed. These contaminants also are the pollutants that are in large part responsible for declining fisheries productivity in Chesapeake Bay. If we don't want these pollutants in Chesapeake Bay, then we need to keep them out of the streams and lakes of our College Creek watershed (and all of the thousands of little watersheds that collectively make up the Chesapeake Bay watershed).
Currently, all water sampling is completed by faculty and students at the College of William and Mary. Our goal, however, is to get members of the community to "adopt" sampling locations and be responsible for collecting water samples that we can analyze at the Keck Environmental Field Laboratory. With more people sampling water in the watershed, we will have a better understanding of the quality of our aquatic resources that until now have never been surveyed on a regular basis.