Rock Creek at CTH A


The Water Action Volunteers Program (WAV) involves citizen monitors in the collection of stream water quality data that may be used by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and their partner organizations. Program goals include building relationships between DNR staff and citizen monitors while assessing streams in need of additional monitoring, restoration, and/or protection. Ultimately, volunteer participation increases capabilities of the DNR and communities to monitor streams, providing water quality information that may be used to make decisions that affect the management of streams throughout Wisconsin.


The main goal of the WAV program is to preserve and protect Wisconsin’s streams and the lakes to which they are connected. Objectives of the program are to educate and empower citizens to share their data, to obtain high quality data useful for DNR decision-making, and to encourage data and knowledge sharing. The process of data collection by Wisconsin residents enhances their understanding of water quality parameters, and in many cases, interests them in assisting with more sophisticated projects, including the collection of additional biological, chemical, and physical site data. Ultimately, a goal is that DNR staff trust volunteer data results, and therefore utilize WAV data to assist in making management decisions.

Study Design

Volunteer stream monitors assess water quality parameters identified in the DNR’s Water Resources Monitoring Strategy for Wisconsin. Volunteers may identify their own sampling locations. In some instances, WAV Coordinators, DNR, or county staff may recommend sites based on the need to acquire status or trends information, or other types of monitoring that are priorities. In general, volunteers are asked to monitor from May through October. Advanced volunteers choose primary (P) and secondary (S) sampling dates in advance and note on their data sheets which of those dates they monitored. Volunteers are asked to sample on the primary date unless there are safety concerns about being at the stream site (e.g., tornado, lightning, dangerously high flows) or a personal or family emergency. The goal is to monitor at the same time each month, about 30 days after the last monitoring visit. Volunteers are instructed to enter data into the Surface Water Integrated Monitoring System (SWIMS) database by the end of each month and to immediately report extreme conditions that may be hazardous to aquatic life to their local DNR or County biologist. Parameters measured monthly include: dissolved oxygen (concentration), dissolved oxygen (saturation), streamflow, transparency, temperature (instantaneous and/or continuous measurements), and sometimes pH. In addition, macroinvertebrates (Biotic Index) are assessed twice per year and habitat conditions are assessed once per year. Some volunteers monitor specific conductance, chloride, total phosphorus, E. coli, or other parameters.

Related Reports

Run Project Summary Report
View Umbrella-Projects
View Related-Projects

Citizen Based Stream Monitoring
Volunteer Monitoring
Reports and Documents
Photo of monitoring site (DNR landing) on 5/2/16
This is the freshwater mussel we observed. I believe the one on the right is the first live mussel we have found at this site.
This apparent norhern water snake was observed on the outside of the Highway A culvert on Rock Creek. (One was observed in these rocks on a previous year as well.)
This is looking down the DNR canoe/boat launch site, showing dead cattails in spring. Monitoring is conducted in stream behind Steve Bower. Flow measurements are conducted about 25 yards downstream at Highway A bridge.
This is Carl Glassford at the culvert opening where we measure flow. We release a tennis ball and recapture it 50 feet downstream on the other end of this 6 foot diameter culvert. This photo was provided to the Jefferson County board to alert them to erosion of the bank behind/between the rocks around the culvert.
WAV station ID 283217. This is the only other macro-invertebrate we observed on 10/17/19 other than Stonefly larvae.
Upstream of County Highway A
Downstream of County Highway A.
The crew at the sampling station: Steve Bower, Jim Kerler, and Carl Glassford
Canoe landing (monitoring site) showing water level, usually much higher
Site, algae, stream flow setup
New (downstream of culvert) site and "compressed 1 ft" setup for WAV1 flow monitoring as of this date. (See WAV1 database for entries.)
Activities & Recommendations
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.