The Adopt-A-Stream Program is a citizen's volunteer stream monitoring program that assesses the health of local waterways through chemical and biological parameters, including pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and macroinvertebrate surveys. The hands-on activities of the Adopt-A-Stream program can be educational and fun for citizens of all ages, and any level of involvement is welcomed.
Adopt-A-Stream is a state-wide program administered through the Georgia Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources.¬† Fulton County is certified by the state to offer training and certification to our citizens in this program.¬† All data collected by our volunteers is entered into the state's database and is accesible on their website.¬†
What do volunteers do?
Adopt-A-Stream volunteer monitors look out for their local streams. They visit them on a regular basis, report problems, and collect water quality data. Fulton County Public Works provides the training and most supplies needed for both chemical and biological monitoring.
Chemical testing is done on a monthly basis. Volunteers use field kits to collect air and water temperatures, pH, and dissolved oxygen readings. This data is sent on to the County and input into a statewide database maintained by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
Biological monitoring is conducted quarterly and is an even better chance to get up close and personal with your adopted stream section. Volunteers don wading boots and use nets and buckets to sample the macroinvertebrate life of the stream. One of the best measures of stream health is looking at the life that the stream is supporting. We use aquatic macroinvertebrates (which is a fancy term for stream dwelling bugs, including insects, crustaceans, worms, snails, and clams) as indicators because they are easy to collect and identify.
What might you find in the creek?
Here are a few samples of common insects found in a Fulton County stream. You will notice that the bugs shown here have the word "fly" in their names. That is because many flying insects have an aquatic, or water based, larval stage. These insects have gills and breathe dissolved oxygen when in this part of their life cycles. Pretty cool, huh?
right: common net spinning cadisfly larva
below left: damselfly larva
below right: mayfly larva
For size perspective, these bugs were photographed in the bowl of a plastic spoon.¬† Photos courtesy of Daniel McMahill.