Stream Smart is a program that guides local volunteers through a standardized process of quarterly water quality monitoring within the Beaver Lake Watershed. Typically, a group of three to four local volunteers form a team and choose a site to monitor quarterly. Stream Smart teams visit their sites during the first week of the month in February, May, August, and November. The first monitoring week happened in August 2012. By November, interest in the program had grown and nine Stream Smart teams were able to make it to 11 stream sites located throughout the Beaver Lake Watershed. Although water levels remained exceptionally low for the last quarterly monitoring, all of the teams were able to report some data in November.
In addition to monitoring, Stream Smart serves as an educational and service program for volunteers and the broader community in Northwest Arkansas. In just two sampling months, August and November of 2012, Stream Smart teams logged more than 90 combined hours volunteering at stream sites to collect valuable stream data within the Beaver Lake Watershed in Northwest Arkansas.
In November, Stream Smart Volunteers and Association for Beaver Lake Environment (ABLE) members Bob Ross, Grimsley Graham, and James Gately invited approximately 20 homeschooled students from Eclectic Teaching Consortium of Northwest Arkansas to assist with their quarterly water quality monitoring. By partnering with the homeschoolers, local students had the opportunity to learn about watersheds and how the Beaver Lake Watershed functions. The Stream Smart volunteers guided the students through a rainfall adventure, teaching the students how the rain they see falling near their homes winds its way through rills and gullies before making its way to nearby streams and eventually into Beaver Lake.
Each of the volunteers then taught the students about different aspects of water quality and involved the students in the processes used by Stream Smart to measure water quality in the Beaver Lake Watershed. The day proved to be a great experience for the students by connecting them with their environment and drinking water, exposing them to environmental science, and expanding their knowledge.
The Stream Smart program has had a great start and teams are looking forward to their upcoming monitoring. However, plenty of sites in the Beaver Lake Watershed remain available for new volunteers to monitor. Volunteers do not need a science background. Individuals are welcome and we can help to partner individuals with a monitoring team. For information, email Angela Danovi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stream Smart is a cooperative effort between Ozarks Water Watch, Beaver Water District, the Arkansas Game and Fish Stream Team program, the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Arkansas Water Resources Center, and the Beaver Watershed Alliance.