San Diego Coastkeeper Water Quality Monitoring Embarks on Bioassessment

During the June water monitoring event, we hired Nautilus Environmental to perform some bioassessment investigations at a few of our sampling sites. Bioassessments measure the physical habitat of streams and collect and identify the aquatic insects that live there. By identifying the insect communities that live in a stream, we get a sense of how healthy the ecosystem is. If insects that are sensitive to pollution are not found, we can say that the ecosystem is stressed. The physical habitat measurements tell us the non-chemical story of the stream. Habitat degradation, sedimentation and stream bed characteristics are all quantified.

Our monthly water monitoring program looks at the chemical constituents found in the county’s creeks and streams. These numbers, however, only tell a partial story. When combined with the bioassessment studies we get a more holistic view of the stream health and a clearer picture of how the constituents we monitor affect the streams.

Our water monitoring lab intern, Matt Pawinski, accompanied the field techs at Nautilus Environmental and put together a video describing the process. Watch it here.