The water was very calm. We collected our samples while crouching on the sand bar at the right edge of the picture and on the adjacent rock. Analysis showed our E-coli counts to be just 36.9 and 38.4 mpn/100mL, the lowest by far of the 5 sites sampled. (The other sites are on Long Branch and Sligo Creek.) If the E-coli level stayed like that (under 410 mpn/100mL), swimming would be safe. But unfortunately, after a rain, E-coli levels rise. 5/19/21
Perched on a rock, Anne shows the turbidity sample. We also check the acidity level and water temperature vs air temperature. Sampling will continue every 2 weeks, and at the end of the summer we'll have a profile of stream quality. 5/19/21
Bacteria samples must be kept on ice and analyzed within 5 hours from collection, so it's a race against time to turn in the samples.5/19/21
That's a thermometer she is holding over the water. 6/2/21
The water turned out to be a shade warmer than the air. Perhaps hot water running off pavement? 6/2/21
The bacteria sample must be analyzed within 5 hours, so the label must have time as well as date. The e-coli level, averaged between 2 samples, was 249 MPN/100 mL, still passing, but higher than on 5/19. 6/2/21
Monitors also must fill out a chain of custody form. 6/2/21
They compare the pH strip color to the coding. The water was more alkaline than at the testing 2 weeks earlier. 6/2/21
Kem Morawski, John Melle, and Sudeep Bhatia show the initial collection. Then it grew.... Burnt Mills, 4/10/21.
Maryland Master Naturalist Paula Wang gave us a virtual preview of the short-lived woodland treasures along the Northwest Branch and other local trails. She included key identification features, medicinal uses, and folklore associated with these spring ephemeral visual treats. She shared just where to find whole arrays of flowers--and also warned of the inroads being made by non-native invasives such as Lesser Celandine. The trail guide she mentioned in her talk and the slides she used can be downloaded below. If you want to review the entire presentation, check out the YouTube (below, or click on Spring Beauties). Toward the end of the presentation, you'll hear a variety of frog calls, identified. Enjoy! And then get out on the trails very soon, before many of these flowers are gone.
The program covered biological monitoring background and long-term monitoring results; stream restoration project updates, especially focused on the Glenallan Tributary to the NWB; other stormwater mitigation & water quality enhancement efforts; and volunteer services updates. Our presenters were Rachel Gauza, Biological Monitoring Program Coordinator; Erin McArdle, P.E., Environmental Engineer; Jackie Hoban, Senior Natural Resources Specialist; and Valeria Espinoza, Stream & Parks Cleanup Coordinator. Doug Stephens, Principal Natural Resources Specialist, kept an eye on the chat questions and provided answers. A YouTube video of the presentation is linked here.
Dismayed by Ed Murtagh's video of largely street runoff litter, NNWB members Kem Morawski, Anne Ambler, and Scott Zillmer joined Ed in de-littering both sides of the NWB downstream of Colesville Rd. The action greatly improved, at least temporarily, this otherwise beautiful area. The cleanup was a spur-of-the-moment affair, not an official MoCo Parks cleanup, so we used our own equipment. Photo by Ed Murtagh, 1/6/21.
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, Maryland Master Naturalist and science educator Paula Wang treated us to a virtual look around the winter forest, and my oh my, what we've been missing! Winter has its own interesting natural phenomena--among the trees, on the forest floor, and birds you can actually see now that the leaves are gone. Paula captured it all in pictures. If you missed the program, or would like to review, you can find a video of the complete presentation, courtesy of NNWB member Ed Murtagh, here. To review a particular slide, pause the video. Enjoy your winter walks with new powers of observation!
AWS-NNWB workers under the Metro bridge span after the morning's work. Photo by Jonathan Stephanoff. 10/31/20.
Olivia Anderson, Project Coordinator and Development Lead at the Anacostia Riverkeeper, gave an overview of the Anacostia Riverkeeper water quality monitoring program and results from May through August 2020 for e-coli bacteria, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and some other measures. Monitoring sites include ones on the Northwest Branch and Sligo Creek. Robbie O'Donnell, Watershed Programs Manager, joined Olivia for an extensive Q & A. Four NNWB members have been part of this program.
You'll find a link to the recorded presentation and Q & A here. Use Passcode: 4WH$#UDM.
And if you'd like to zero in on a particular slide, you can download a pdf of the Power Point presentation from the button below. You can also view the most current e-coli results from our water quality monitoring below that. Anacostia Riverkeeper's current water quality monitoring schedule ended with this sampling.
Ryan Colliton, program manager for the Vegetation Ecology and Management Program at Montgomery Parks. and Corinne Stephens, the Weed Warrior Coordinator, presented proposed updates to the Weed Warrior program and to the 2009 vegetation management plan for parks. The presentation slides can be downloaded from the button below. Big plans are in the works for a powerful Weed Warrior program once training can again take place!
Earlier plans: the 2009 Vegetation Management Plan ; The 2013 Natural Resources Management Plan. It describes all the major habitats in the county and lists links to all the management plans (for deer and streams, for example).
At our Feb. 4 meeting, Dr. Kathleen Michels described the toxic effects of microplastic pollution on aquatic life and seabirds. Dr. Michels stressed that plastic pollution includes the broken bits and dissolved toxins from artificial turf. She displayed samples of the rug of plastic grass and the pulverized used tire crumbs that most often serve as infill for cushioning and to hold the blades up. Soccer fields contain roughly 675,000 square yards, or 40,000 pounds, of carpet with 400,000 pounds of infill. By the time the turf is too worn to use, a lot of the "grass" blades and much of the infill has already left the field and entered our waterways. But disposal of the rest is a serious problem, since it is not currently recyclable in the U.S. Other microplastics are the result of the breakdown of larger plastic objects such as our ubiquitous plastic bags.
Unfortunately, none of the bills that would have reduced plastic pollution managed to pass the shortened session of the Maryland Legislature, even the balloon release ban, which had seemed very promising. However, a similar balloon release ban is still awaiting action in the Montgomery County Council. Please let your state and county legislators know you support reducing killer plastic pollution, and we'll try again next year.
Find your legislators at MDelect.net. Use your right to be heard!
The absurdity of wasting scarce education money on these fields has been captured by the comic strip Big Nate. In case you missed it, here's the URL. https://www.gocomics.com/bignate/2020/05/08.
Rolls of syn turf taken from a Bethesda E.S. awaiting disposal...somewhere. Photo by Amanda Farber.
Chuck Kines, Montgomery County Parks Planner/Coordinator, updated us on the thinking behind the update of the Wheaton Park Master Plan. Although a regional park, Wheaton must also function as a local park, as it lies in a densely populated area. His slide presentation, downloadable below, included maps and demographics. The Parks Department is in the early stages of planning and welcomes input from park users.
FEATURED SPEAKER Tiffany Boone-Hines, a Montgomery Blair High School student, spoke about her participation in One Montgomery Green's Clean Headwaters Program and what she has learned about the impact of plastics waste in marine environments through her hands-on study of the Northwest Branch and its tributaries.
Overall, plastic micro- and macro-pollution in waterways is a huge problem, and the Northwest Branch has its share of plastic waste. The team, using a sieve to isolate particles which they then viewed under a microscope, found tiny bits of plastic foam and synthetic fibers. Rather than rely on recycling plastics, we must reduce our use in the first place. It appears that our removal of all those plastic bottles and cups from the NWB has been beneficial, however, as the amount of particles in the water was not overwhelming. The slides from Tiffany's presentation can be viewed below.
One Montgomery Green is a local nonprofit fostering partnerships to support environmental sustainability and promote the development of a green economy.