I am one of the volunteers that monitors the streams in Center County, PA.
The following article appeared in The Centre Daily Times on June 6, 2021:
Volunteers take action to monitor Centre County’s watersheds
BY KEN JOHNSON
Late last year an effort was made to determine the effectiveness of some our volunteer water monitoring groups in aiding in determining our state’s compliance to the watershed clean-up efforts. CCPaSEC was qualified due to their extensive data (more than 12 years), their quality assurance program and association with Clear Water conservancy, Penn State’s “Shale Network,” Penn State laboratories, the Centre County RSVP and Centre County Conservation Services.
The Centre County Pennsylvania Senior Environmental Corps, a nonprofit associated with the ClearWater Conservancy and the Centre County RSVP, has been monitoring many of our local streams since 2003. Pennsylvania is second only to Alaska in the number of natural clear-water surface streams. Pennsylvania’s streams constitute a major source of water entering the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and is subject to federal concern due to pollution, including that from Acid Mine Drainage (AMD). Pennsylvania’s AMD abatement and treatment program (AMD Set-Aside Program) was first authorized in 1990. Our mission is to inform the public and our county leadership of the quality and health of our local streams.
WHAT DO CCPASEC VOLUNTEERS DO? CCPaSEC’s volunteers are dedicated to help Centre County compliance with our state and federal stream monitoring standards. The CCPaSEC members support 13 teams that, weather and conditions permitting, monitor many streams each month using field kits equipped with instruments and chemical reagents to measure levels (mg/L) of phosphate, nitrate, sulfate and alkalinity, flow (m3/sec), pH, and conductivity. Twice a year they perform counts of macroinvertebrates — those little creatures like mayflies, Stonefly Larvae and riffle beetle that indicate year-round stream health.
WATERSHEDS CLEANUP DAY
The ClearWater Conservancy held its annual Watersheds Cleanup Day on April 24. The first Cleanup Day was held in 1997. Over these 24 years, roughly 6 million pounds of trash has been removed from our roadways and streams, all done by volunteers. The CCPaSEC is a division of the ClearWater Conservancy and the Centre County Retired Senior Volunteers Program (RSVP) has been participating in the cleanup effort over the years. This year we had eight of our members participating. We concentrated our efforts in the Buffalo Run watershed area, and did our cleanup
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along Filmore Road, Upper Gyp Road, and Valleyview Road. All of these roadways border on or have tributaries to Buffalo Run. The total bags for the cleanup day this year was 217. The CCPaSEC volunteers collected of 36 bags of that total.
Since our main volunteer effort is monitoring the quality of Centre County streams, we view it as important to continue our participation in the Cleanup Day campaign. After all, we do “all live downstream.”
DEDICATION TO CENTRE COUNTY WATERSHEDS In 2020, CCPaSEC members logged 2041.4 hours of volunteer service in their mission to gather and publish data on the quality of water in the streams of Centre County.
The value of those hours to the community in 2019 dollars is $51,871.97 and in the past 7 years, (2014-2020), $433,128.27. CCPaSEC works with several organizations, universities and youth groups to carry out projects benefiting Centre County watersheds.
Through the pandemic the group continued to meet using the internet and to preform field surveys when permitted by the Pennsylvania COVID-19 regulations.
CCPaSEC’s water monitoring efforts are no longer limited to seniors. Previously, the RSVP restricted membership to seniors, due to provisions imposed by the AmeriCorps for supplemental accident insurance to cover costs over and above what you may already have and it is only for accidents that occur during volunteer service. Now, the ClearWater Conservancy allows its members to participate by providing Clearwater members with additional accident insurance while participating in in volunteer activity.
You must join either organization to participate with a survey team. If you wish to join one of our volunteer teams, please contact either the Centre County ClearWater Conservancy or the Centre County RSVP.
For more information, visit http//www.ccpasec.org
KEN JOHNSON IS THE CCPASEC PUBLIC RELATIONS RESOURCE ADVISOR.