How does ENERWA perform water quality sampling?

Working in teams of two, a dedicated corps of volunteers, led by George Kaplan, performs monthly sampling at selected sites from March – November. Each site is accessible from the shore and teams sample each site once each month. Some analysis is performed in the field while samples are also collected for total nitrogen and phosphorus and sent to a lab for analysis.

What do we measure and why is it important?

  • Air and water temperatures

  • pH

  • Total nitrogen (TN)

  • Conductivity

  • Total phosphorus (TP)

  • Dissolved oxygen (DO)

  • Water clarity (turbidity)      

Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and sediment are the three pollutants addressed by the Bay’s “pollution diet” overseen by the EPA. In our measurements, TN, TP, and turbidity are the parameters that directly relate to these pollutants. Conductivity is a measure of ion concentration in the water (which can stress organisms), and DO indicates how well a waterway can support aquatic animals — fish, invertebrates, etc.

What sites are now being monitored?

3 Tidal: (CTN) Charlestown Fishing Pier, (NEP) North East Park Dock, (SMA) St. Mary Anne’s Church Dock 5 Upstream (Non-tidal): (STR) Stony Run, (HSP) Herring Snatchers Park, (GIL) Gilpin Falls Covered Bridge, (WAR) Warburton Road Bridge, (DRM) Dr. Miller Road Bridge

North East River Watershed

2019 Grade: C
Water Quality Report 2019 - Elk & North East Rivers Watershed Association

How is the grade calculated?

ENERWA uses the sampling and analysis protocols developed by the Mid-Atlantic Tributary Assessment Coalition (MTAC). There are specific protocols for tidal sites and non-tidal sites. View the raw ENERWA data at each site on the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative Data Explorer.

The tables on the left show the complete scorecard, according to the MTAC protocols, for our 2019 measurements. As can be seen, the tidal sites scored somewhat better than the upstream sites, although their water clarity was poor. Dissolved oxygen (DO) is not scored for the upstream sites (although it is used as a check) because DO is generally good in flowing streams. Conductivity is not scored for tidal sites because it is very sensitive to changes in salinity. In fact, during the late summer and fall of last year, when the upper Bay salinity increased due to lack of rainfall, our conductivity measures for the tidal sites reached record high levels.