Stream Watch Activities

Stream Inventories: using photos, lists, maps, brochures etc.

Natural Resources - benthic invertebrates, plants and animals along the stream corridor, geologic features, scenic characteristics;

Cultural Resources - archaeological sites, old mills and structures, artifacts, historic background of the area; and

Human Activities - discharge pipes, land uses, etc.

Outings: organized events for the group or general public

Educational - bird watching, plant identification, benthic sampling, animal tracking or behavior observation, visits to wastewater or water treatment plants, photo "expeditions", tours of historic sites, etc.;

Recreational - canoe trips, hikes, fishing, swimming, picnics, etc.;

Rivers' Month - any water oriented activity held in conjunction with North Carolina Rivers' Month (June of each year).

Monitoring: watching for problems and reporting them

Biological - aquatic insect and other macro-invertebrate samples (see "A Guide to Streamwalking"), algal growth;

Chemical - temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, nutrients, etc. (this type of monitoring requires training and equipment);

Sediment - observing sediment in water, checking erosion control measures being used;

Spills and Other Unusual Events - reporting unusual odor, color, or materials in the water, fish kills, etc.;

Stream Flows - watching for low flow problems downstream of projects which withdraw or temporarily divert water;

Nuisance Weeds - checking your lake or stream for infestations of undesirable aquatic plants; and

Wetlands Fill - activities which involve filling in wetlands may require a permit with certain conditions to follow (from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers).  Has the permit been obtained and are conditions being followed?

Involvement in the Environmental Permit Process:  

For example:  waste discharges, wetlands fill, water quality classification changes, environmental impact statements, changes in regulations or policies;

Education - learning how the process works and how to be notified of pending actions, learning about the characteristics of a particular project or issue; and

Providing Input - commenting in writing or at public meetings.

Working With Local Government and Businesses:

Land Use Planning - offering input and encouragement for the establishment and implementation of land use plans, and also ordinances dealing with stormwater runoff and erosion control;

Open Space - encourage greenways, parks, access points, etc. and become involved in their planning and development;

Water Use Conservation - educate the public, work with local utilities to reduce water use.  Less water coming out of the lake or stream means more water left in it, and less wastewater being discharged; and

Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance ( - a DEQ program which works with industries to find ways to reduce the waste they generate by process changes and recycling.  Encourage local industries to become involved.

Stream Improvement:

Clean Ups - removing trash in and along your stream and lake.  The results are immediately apparent.  This can be a good way to involve the public, youth groups, local businesses etc.  It also may get media attention;

Nature Trails - a properly designed and constructed trail improves access to areas of natural interest without disturbing them.  They can be a recreational and educational asset, and raise public awareness.  Find the right people to design one and work with local government, landowners, etc.  to establish a trail (see also "Open Space- greenways");

Canoe Trails - work with local agencies, canoeists, and landowners to establish one.  Help develop access sites, remove fallen trees, promote safety, provide maps, lead outings etc.;

Habitat Enhancement - work with agency biologists or local experts to improve habitat, eg. put in wood duck boxes, rehabilitate degraded streams with streambank plantings or establishing cover for fish in the stream; and

Best Management Practices - work with extension agents, agencies, and landowners to encourage agricultural and forestry practices which protect water bodies.


Youth - outings or presentations involving schools, teachers, 4H, Scout groups, Big Brother/Sister, boys or girls clubs etc.;

Adult- outings or presentations involving neighborhood associations, local officials, soil and water conservation district representatives, or other adult organizations;

Media- encourage local media interest, write an article for Stream Watch News;

Class Project - as a teacher, student, or parent, encourage the use of water bodies as outdoor classrooms.  Contact existing Stream Watch teachers to get ideas.  Use materials available through Stream Watch, and develop and share others.

Workshops - sponsor or participate in conferences/workshops which offer training for and exchange of ideas between Stream Watchers;

Educational Materials - develop brochures, guides, slide shows etc. for your stream or streams in general.  Work with local schools to help them acquire equipment or texts to use in stream activities.

Other: The list above is not comprehensive. Use your interests, capabilities, and imagination to carry out projects.