Become a citizen scientist with City Stream Watch!

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If you’re fascinated by the natural world, love spending time outside or simply want an excuse to splash around in your local creek, now’s your chance. The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority’s [RVCA] City Stream Watch program will host a volunteer orientation day on May 25 for anyone interested in helping with its stream assessments, which carefully survey the full length of four Ottawa creeks each summer. This year’s candidates are Brassils Creek near Burritts Rapids, Graham Creek near Bayshore Mall, McEwan Creek in Greenboro and Greens Creek in Beacon Hill.

Survey volunteers can sign up for their preferred shifts on weekday mornings, afternoons or evenings, as well as Saturdays, with survey work beginning in June. Volunteers will help staff sample water chemistry for the presence of metals, nutrients and contaminants, and also record water temperature.

They’ll also help survey the stream’s morphology, habitat and shoreline conditions, and note the presence of any native or invasive species.

“Urban creeks are especially vulnerable to pollution and invasive species thanks to their proximity to roads and developments, which can send a lot of contaminated runoff into our water,” said RVCA’s Acting City Stream Watch co-ordinator Eric Guitard. “By surveying these streams we can track the impacts and direct our resources toward areas that need some attention.”

This could include targeted invasive species removals, shoreline restoration or even recommendations for better stormwater management on nearby public properties.

Volunteers are the backbone of the program, which is administered by Ottawa’s three conservation authorities in the Rideau Valley, Mississippi Valley and South Nation watersheds with support from several community and non-profit organizations. No experience is necessary, as the RVCA will host a volunteer orientation training day between 10 a.m. and 12 noon on Saturday, May 25 at the mouth of Sawmill Creek off of Riverside Drive. Training will also be provided on the job.

“It’s an incredible way to get involved,” said Eric Guitard. “You make a meaningful difference to your local environment while spending the day learning outdoors. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Volunteers are also needed for regular public clean-ups and invasive species removals, which usually take place on Saturday mornings across the city between now and October.

To join the volunteer mailing list or register for the orientation day, email citystreamwatch@rvca.ca. Visit www.rvca.ca/volunteer/city-stream-watch to learn more about the program

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