High school junior Isaac Busler received valuable hands-on training at the headwaters of Slippery Rock Creek in Butler County, including a lesson on maintaining a tight grasp of the sonde caps so one doesn’t accidentally slip into the stream!
Isaac visited six spots along the headwaters, and at each spot tested the water for specific conductivity and pH, and deployed new data loggers.
The six refurbished data loggers are now collecting temperature and conductivity data every 30 minutes. Specific conductivity measures the amount of dissolved ions in the water.
Before visiting the streams, Isaac learned how to set up the data logger software. Before his next round of visits back to the six sites he will learn how to download the data loggers to help the SRWC obtain a general idea of stream health and give helpful alerts in the event of pollution events.
Lower conductivity signals less pollution in general, though at times limestone dissolution at a passive treatment system can also raise conductivity.
Isaac used a handheld conductivity meter to gather initial conductivity readings, learning how to calibrate the device for correct use.
The highest conductivity readings, 510 μmhos/cm at Branchton and 500 μmhos/cm at Boyers, were found at the highest headwater points. The lowest conductivity reading was 230 μmhos/cm at Muddy Creek upstream of Lake Arthur. All six sites showed healthy pH values of 6.5 to 8.0.
Three data logger sondes are still functioning from initial installation in late 2014. Three additional loggers will soon arrive and be installed.
Those six data loggers will join the six from the March installation to make a total of 12. Each sonde is uniquely attached to a safe point for best security. Most data loggers are attached via cable to a tree, while some are attached to a bridge if available.
As an intern, Isaac will visit the data logger sites within Slippery Rock Creek watershed every couple of months. He will download the data from each sonde and upload it to the SRWC web site, incorporating it into a single file accessible by the public.
Thank you Colcom Foundation for their commitment to a sustainable future and funding for this Slippery Rock Creek Watershed data logger project.
For more information on programs, projects, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition website. Follow them on Facebook. Click Here to sign up to sign up for regular updates.
The Butler County-based Coalition was established in 1994 to restore land, water and wildlife resources in the Slippery Rock Watershed.
How Clean Is Your Stream?
DEP’s Interactive Report Viewer allows you to zoom in on your own stream or watershed to find out how clean your stream is or if it has impaired water quality using the latest information in the draft 2020 Water Quality Report.
PA Environment Digest