Water Quality Monitoring

Reedy Creek Coalition is looking for a few more volunteers to join our water quality monitoring team.  Sample collection occurs once a month and takes about two hours; on the job training is provided.  If you are interested in helping or if you have questions please contact us at reedycreekcoalition@gmail.com .

Our monitoring activities can make a difference right here in our own neighborhood.   Back in 2012 during our travels along the stream we found what appeared to be a potential hot spot for E. coli; our sample collection confirmed these suspicions.  We contacted Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities who investigated, found and repaired a sewer leak.  Click here for that story.

This is Citizen Science at its best!  Please join us.

Invasive Plant Removal: Why does your local watershed group think this is important?

Crooked Branch Ravine Park acts like a sponge, soaking up rain water and keeping it where it falls.  It is also home to many native plants that support wildlife, including warblers and other song birds on their long migrations.

CBR map
The circle indicates the approximate location of Crooked Branch Ravine Park.

Protecting areas like this will help keep the rain where it falls and help improve water quality; this need is great in urban areas with lots of impervious surface.   Unfortunately, this little park has many non-native, invasive plants and over time they will threaten the tree canopy (natures’ best invention for capturing rain water).  And, as native species are lost so is the diversity that supports wildlife.

This is important work. We would appreciate your help.

  • Sunday,  January 6 from 1 – 3 p.m.  or as long as you can stay.
  • Bring gloves and hand clippers.  An old screwdriver is sometimes helpful for removing ivy from trees; we will show you how.
  • Bring a friend!

Map to meeting site

INVASIVE PLANT REMOVAL: CROOKED BRANCH RAVINE PARK

Reedy Creek and a small tributary, Crooked Branch, flow through Crooked Branch Ravine Park.  This small, passive park is home to many native trees, shrubs, and perennials that could be lost to advancing invasive plant species, particularly English ivy and privet.  Reedy Creek Coalition will resume  our invasive removal efforts now that the weather is cooler.

  • Please  join us on Saturday, December 8, 2017 from 1 – 3 p.m.
  • We will meet at the end of Northrop Street where there is a path into the park.
  • Bring gloves, pruners, and, if you have one, a small saw for cutting large ivy vines.
  • Only have an hour to spare?  That’s quite alright.  Every little bit helps. 
  • Map to meeting place

The area where we will be working has oak, hickory, maple, black gum, fringe trees,  wintergreen, cranfly orchids, and other native species.  The diversity of species in just this small area speaks to the value of this park.

chimaphila-maculata-spotted-wintergreen-flower-with-ivy
Striped wintergreen will soon be overcome by English ivy.

Invasive removal-Crooked Branch Ravine Park

We intend to tackle the English ivy growing up trees this coming Sunday.  This effort will have positive effects beyond this small park since English ivy only produces flowers, fruit and then berries only after it climbs a vertical surface.  The vines above the cut will die and there will be no berries for the birds to eat and then spead the see to other locations.  It’s also a relief for the tree!

We will meet on Crutchfield Street across the road from the sports fields of George Wythe High School. This important work and we would really appreciate your help.

 

 

  • Sunday,  November 4 from 1 – 3 p.m.  or as long as you can stay.
  • Bring gloves and hand clippers.  A small saw if you have one
  • An old screwdriver is sometimes helpful for removing ivy from trees; we will show you how.
  • We do ask that you bring your own water.
  • Bring a friend!
  • If you have never done this type of work before we will glady show you what to do.

Invasive Removal, Covington Road

Reedy Creek Coalition plans to plant a small area of park property along Covington Road with native trees and shrubs; this will be done in sections over the next 2-3 years.  Over time these new plants should transform the area from a wildlife “unfriendly” site to one that provides food and shelter.  Other benefits are cleaner water and a cooler environment.  Our efforts will start with invasive removal and we hope that you will join us.

  • Sunday,   October 21  from 1 – 3 p.m.  or as long as you can stay.
  • Bring gloves and hand clippers.  A small saw may be useful if you have one.
  • We do ask that you bring your own water.
  • Bring a friend!
  • If you have never done this type of work before we will glady help you identify the plants that need to be removed.
  • Questions:  Contact us at https://reedycreekcoalition.org/contact-us/

Map to the site

There are some trees along the edge of the property, but more will be better. 

 

 

Plan to Plant for the Watershed

Have you ever really thought about where the water goes when it rains?   In urban areas much of that water is intentionally directed to a storm drain and most of that ends up in a stream.   The primary intent -to reduce flooding- is accomplished most of the time, but this storm water transports pollutants, causes stream bank erosion, and makes conditions intolerable for most aquatic life.  Many consider it the root cause of all watershed evils!

This system of storm drains, concrete channels and the like seemed a good idea at the time, but as development and urban sprawl increased, so did the storm water runoff and the damage it does.  We need to re-think how we manage this water.  The answer, strange as it may seem, is to keep this water where it falls and let it soak into the ground.  We don’t want your basement to flood, but please do consider what you could do to keep some of your rain on your property.   Mother nature protects watersheds and water quality with plants.  Our best and easiest option is to mimic nature.

Trees are better than anything man every invented when it comes protecting and improving water quality and they do this in several ways.

  • Raindrops falling directly from the sky hit the ground with enough impact to compact soil over time making it more difficult for water to soak in. Raindrops that encounter leaves or branches first don’t hit the ground so hard.
  • Leaves, branches and bark catch and hold some rain. Some evaporates and some falls to the ground later, both reduce the chance of run off.
  • Roots create a route for water to more easily soak into the soil.
  • The network of roots helps hold the soil, reducing erosion.
  • Leaf litter under the tree is another place to capture some water. It will also create a soil high in organic matter that acts like a sponge to soak up and hold water.

Perhaps you already have some large trees.  Mimic nature again and make this watershed friendly landscape even better by adding layers.   Small, understory trees and shrubs will capture even more water.   If possible, allow some of your lawn to become a layered landscape too and add some lovely perennials.  Please use native plant species and keep your leaf litter.

We should all take responsibility for the rain that falls on our property.   One well landscaped property will make a small impact, but collectively we could make a big difference.  Join your neighbors to create the largest protected area you can.   This will also provide habitat, food and cover for birds and other critters who are now quite dependent on us to provide for them.

WATER QUALITY BEGINS AT HOME

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More ideas for protecting our watershed can be found here

Urban Stream Syndrome

hipwader

Reedy Creek suffers from Urban Stream Syndrome.   

You can help!

Nitrogen and phosphorus are nutrients that are found naturally in the environment.  However, a lot of human activities create excesses of these nutrients.   For example, the fertilizers you might put on your lawn or garden or the detergent you use to wash your car each probably contain nitrogen and phosphorus in some form.  Pet waste contains nitrogen and phosphorus too.  When these things wash into stormwater drains, they ultimately end up in our creeks and steams.   There, either of two things can happen.  If it‘s just a little bit of nutrients, and the water flows slowly through the environment, plants and microbes can take care of the nutrients, changing them into forms that are harmless to the environment.

Unfortunately, a lot of streams in our cities suffer from “Urban Stream Syndrome”.  This could mean that the water does not flow slowly (maybe it’s been channelized) or that the amount of nutrient input is just too much for the plants and microbes to handle.  Those nutrients ultimately end up in our nation’s coastal areas, including the Chesapeake Bay.  Here, those excess nutrients affect the habitability of the water for other species by causing harmful algal blooms and “dead zones” of water with low oxygen.

Over several months during Fall 2016, students from the University of Richmond studied Reedy Creek for a Microbial Ecology class.  They found that the creek shows a lot of the characteristics of urban stream syndrome, including high numbers of indicator bacteria, high nitrogen levels, and low levels of dissolved oxygen.  However, they also found that after the water passed through Crooked Branch Ravine Park and approached its merger with the James River, levels of at least one chemical containing nitrogen (nitrate) declined to a normal level.  What this means is that the microbes and plants in the park were doing their job!

Within urban environments, natural areas can provide us with “ecosystem services” like reducing nutrients in stormwater.  It’s up to us, however, to make sure we don’t overwhelm the system. We can do this by planting rain gardens that absorb stormwater, picking up pet waste, and by thinking about what we let wash into the storm drains.  We can also advocate for sensible and forward-thinking urban planning that incorporates as much nature as possible

Dr. Amy Treonis, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Richmond

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The Hip Waders Journal is a series of posts about watershed issues with suggestions for how to improve water quality and support the local ecosystem right from your own yard.  Click the link for easy access to all posts.