A couple years ago, our beloved (now former) lab manager, Travis Pritchard, decided he saw something special scrawled in “Notes, Observations, and Comments” section of the field data sheets of our volunteer water quality monitors. These monitors visit sites along rivers and steams throughout San Diego, taking readings and collecting water samples, giving each visited waterway a thoughtful health check up. Monitors use their field data sheets to record their findings.

There on the field data sheets, below entries on rate of flow and depth and readings of pH and dissolved oxygen and conductivity, Travis noticed a kind of unintentional poetry emerging. He compiled some of this found (and decidedly free verse) poetry into a blog post, which you can find here.

It was a charming and slightly hilarious exercise, but also surprisingly illuminating. By volunteering with the program, water quality monitors spend time in corners of San Diego most of us wouldn’t think to explore. Their observations provide the rest of us with little glimpses into these water’s-edge worlds they have devoted themselves to.

So I recently found myself wondering why we hadn’t made a regular practice of sharing their notes with you. Forgive the multi-year delay, friends. Let’s call Travis’ findings “Volume I.” Today, I would like to present you with The Poetry of Water Monitors, Volume II.



Blue heron greeted us.
Hawk screeched hello.
American coots swam by.

Testing area has been completely cleared,
marsh grasses cut to stubble
exposing creek surface.
Cool, calm, clear skies.

shopping cart
plastic bags
plastic bottles
wood scraps

Raccoon tracks in mud along bank.

Abundant willow tree seed fluff
on top of water surface,
many ants and caterpillars.

Sample pole broken;
samples collected by hand.
Mosquitoes.

Conductivity meter
was out of range.
High tide was at 8:40.

Police line – unable to collect.


To learn more about our Water Quality Monitoring Program (and accidental poetry incubator), click through. 

 

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