What does water quality have to do with the heart-stopping thrill we all get from birding?  What does water quality have to do with the Robert Cooper Audubon Society?  Is there anything I can do to determine what the water quality is in my little part of the world?  I will answer these questions and hopefully generate more with this and future articles.

Throughout Indiana there are people (myself included) who do water quality testing on a voluntary basis.  These people volunteer for an organization called Hoosier Riverwatch, which is operated by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  These volunteers perform a very simple yet effective and important task.  Every couple months water samples are collected and tested and macroinvertebrates (bugs that can be seen by the naked eye) that live in the water’s sediment are studied.  All of this work gives us an overview of how clean our water is.  Water can be affected by a variety of factors: chemical runoff from farm fields, manure runoff from pastures, sewage overflows, trash thrown out by careless visitors.  The list goes on and on.

Without clean, healthy water the world would be a very boring place.  We need clean water for insect, fish, reptile, and amphibian reproduction.  Without the insects, fish, reptiles, and amphibians, the birds and mammals would not come to eat.  With no birds there would be no heart-stopping birding.  If we had no heart-stopping birding, where would the Robert Cooper Audubon Society be?

Water quality is an important factor that affects us all in every aspect of our lives.  It is important that we learn about how we can take care of our water quality as a community.  In the future, the RCAS is planning on having sessions committed to learning more about Hoosier Riverwatch and possibly participating in this beneficial organization.  I encourage everyone to participate, for the sake of the birds!  Please look for future articles which will be devoted to various features of the Hoosier Riverwatch volunteer experience.

This article was written for the Cooper Audubon Society newsletter under my maiden name, Sarah Kistler.  This entire newsletter is available upon request.