It was an unfathomable task. Five sites on 100 miles of river to monitor for 72 hours, continuously, using a variety of complex equipment. We were challenged by wildfire, river closures, air space closures and severe weather. Yet our volunteers accomplished the task.
What did we do? We conducted an extensive water quality monitoring initiative that examined fluctuating temperature, conductivity, turbidity, pH, dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll levels. This was conducted to look at the magnitude of algae activity in the lowest 100 miles of the Deschutes River. We monitored conditions from sites at Mecca Flat, Davidson Flat, Oasis Recreation Site, Macks Canyon and Wagonblast.
It’s too early to know what the data will show. We are still in the process of downloading data from instruments. Those data, and the data collected via manual instruments, will then undergo statistical analysis. We’ll be combining those data with the results of the aerial infrared thermal imaging that was completed on July 26. We’ll look at what species of algae were present during this monitoring period (many samples were collected by Kurt Carpenter from the U.S. Geological Survey Oregon Water Science Center).
Finally, thanks to Quantum Spatial, additional aerial imaging and mapping of the algae growth will take place in early September. These combined efforts will give us a very good picture of the distribution of the nuisance algae that has appeared in the lower river in the past few years, and the impact it has on water chemistry, and by extension, river ecology. It will also give powerful clues, or clearly point, to the source(s) of the nutrients and the algae itself.
A special and heartfelt thanks goes out to our volunteers who gave not only of their time, but were willing to be trained on the use of water quality monitoring equipment, and endured some frankly challenging conditions at times. The volunteers were:
We also owe a special thanks to the Imperial River Company in Maupin, Oregon for allowing us conduct training and organize operations out of their facility, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for the use of water quality monitoring equipment.
Thanks also go out to our donors and other supporters. Without your help, none of this very important work would be possible.
Director, Science and Conservation
Deschutes River Alliance