We Did It! A Report from Greg McMillan

John Hazel watches Larry Marxer measure dissolved oxygen the old-school way.

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.

WQ Experts

Steve Pribyl, Jeremiah Bawden, Rick Hafele and Kurt Carpenter

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.

The Nymph

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).  

Data Sonde

Tools of the trade – the YSI Data Sonde

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.

The process

We measured Dissolved Oxygen (DO) by hand to complement the electronic monitoring devices.

 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:

Jeremiah Bawden

Kurt Carpenter

Robert Casey

Joe Combee

Rick Hafele

Bonnie Lamb

Jeff Mann

Larry Marxer

Greg McMillan

Dave Moskowitz

Kate Puddy

Larry Whitney

 

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.

Training

Thanks also go out to our donors and other supporters.  Without your help, none of this very important work would be possible.

 

Greg McMillan

President

Director, Science and Conservation

Deschutes River Alliance

A Brief Update for Our Donors and Supporters from Greg McMillan

First, allow us to say how grateful we are for the support you’ve shown us, and the lower Deschutes River.

Dixon

Photo by David Moskowitz

Second, we are very busy at the Deschutes River Alliance as we are about to deploy our science initiative.  We’ve just signed a contract to accomplish the aerial thermal and hyper-spectral imaging on the lower river.  The information from this effort will detect thermal influences, locate possible nutrient sources, and map the distribution of the invasive algae.

NASA Photo

NASA Photo

Third, we are in the process of picking up the instruments to do our in-river water quality monitoring at the peak of the algae bloom.  We will have five stations from the mouth up to the Pelton Reregulating Dam that will be gather the most comprehensive water quality data in the lower Deschutes River.

Pine Envi

Fourth, our aquatic insect hatch survey is well underway and we are accruing much more data than in 2013.

Photo by Greg McMillan

Photo by Greg McMillan

Lastly, we’ve assisted Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in their redband trout growth study by conducting the analysis of redband trout stomach contents.

Photo by Greg McMillan

Photo by Greg McMillan

None of this work would be possible without your support.  And this fall, we’ll be ready to share the results of all of our work with you.  Again, thank you for making this possible.

Sincerely and gratefully yours,

 Greg McMillan

Board President

Director of Science and Conservation