Getting Their Feet Wet

Rachel Rosenfeld, a citizen scientist, measures phosphate levels for Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association’s Creek Watch program near Valley Green Inn in Fairmount Park. | Photo by Christian Hunold

Volunteers wade in to monitor the Wissahickon

Rachel Rosenfeld crunched her way through the ice near the shore to get to where she could drop her thermometer into the Wissahickon Creek, just upstream from the Valley Green Inn. Fishing it out of the near-freezing water would hurt, but you need measurements throughout the year to draw a complete picture of the Creek. Rosenfeld, along with other volunteers checking 35 sections of the Wissahickon and its tributaries, visits monthly to check on its health, even in the cold months.

You cannot step into the same river or creek twice, which makes it hard to monitor water quality. The flow at any given moment is a mix of rainwater, groundwater and whatever chemicals have been washed in from the land or generated by life in the river. Any water sample you take is a snapshot, but the more snapshots you get, the better you can understand the state of the creek.

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