Five Diapers Found in the Creek Zone Below High Water Mark
Sedona, AZ (August 8, 2011) – After a winter of inclement weather, then technical team additions, the OCWIP project was put back on track in late spring by Morgan Stine, Project Manager and Managing Director (left). Joining the project as Primary Investigator and in charge of writing the Watershed Improvement Plan (WIP), as well as overseeing the sampling teams, is Sharon Masek Lopez, Watershed Restoration Research Specialist with Northern Arizona University.
Aaron Seifert is on board as GIS Mapping Consultant, and Margaret Neff, a GIS graduate student at NAU will be inputting existing data on wells, springs and waste systems into GIS layers, as well as locating them in the field. Ken Adams is in the NAU PhD program, and Colleen Watling, also an NAU graduate student, are Sampling Team Leaders. Chris Anderson and Laura Palm are doing a great job as Project Assistants. Silke Buschmann also in the PhD program at NAU, has been a huge help in researching background information and data for the WIP, as well as other technical feedback.
A complex project of this size and scope needs expertise, advice and support on several technical levels. ADEQ anticipated this need and so we are very fortunate to be able to tap into the knowledge and resources available from Dr. Phil Guertin, Chair of the University of Arizona’s Watershed Management and Ecohydrology Program, School of Natural Resources, as well as Dr. Channah Rock, Water Quality Specialist with the UA’s Soil, Water & Environmental Science Department, including their staff, mapping and lab facilities.
There are teams within teams, too, and our hydrogeology team includes Sharon Masek-Lopez, Jeanmarie Haney, Hydrologist with The Nature Conservancy; Gail Clements, Consulting Geologist; Paul Lindberg, Consulting Geologist; Ed Wolfe, retired Geologist; and Edessa Carr, Water Resource Education, UA Cooperative Extension, Yavapai County.
Volunteers are a critical element of the project and many graduates from our Master Watershed Steward program have stepped up to the plate to help with sampling, along with members of our Council, as well as members of other community groups like the Sierra Club and KSB. A dozen members of our Watershed Improvement Committee (WIC) all volunteer their time giving the management and technical team feedback and direction, and nine members of the Oak Creek Watershed Council Board of Directors authorize agreements and contracts.
This is what it takes to move this community-driven project forward –thousands of hours of planning, coordination, training, research, data collection, analysis, lab work, reports, budgeting–and a positive attitude by all. At the risk of leaving anybody out, please know that we appreciate all the time and effort that everybody is giving to this historic project.
Grant extension awarded to the Oak Creek Watershed Council
The original two year OCWIP grant awarded to the OCWC by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) under the federal Clean Water Act, has been extended an additional year to September 30, 2012. (OCWC meeting in June) >>>>
Direct funding for the original two year grant was $311,600 and the extension will include an additional $225,000. These amounts are 60% of the total funding, and the Oak Creek Watershed Council is required to provide matching funds for the remaining 40%.
The extension of time will allow the OCWC to finalize the OCWIP documents and implement some solutions. It will also enable our team to develop a comprehensive Oak Creek Community Outreach Program to educate residents and visitors to Oak Creek in good stewardship of its use, while at the same time mobilizing a “boots-on-the-ground” volunteer task force to participate in a litter and trash pick-up program that will eventually involve the entire length of Oak Creek. The development and implementation of a monitoring program is also planned.
The involvement of the watershed community has always been critical to the success of this planning and implementation effort, and will continue to be during the development of the Community Outreach Program next year. The OCWC will be extending an invitation to local community groups, Sedona, Coconino and Yavapai county officials, the business community and watershed residents to participate in the planning of this comprehensive program as it will need widespread input and participation in order to be effective.
Master Watershed Stewards Graduate
After 16 weeks of classes and all-day field trips, twelve Associates graduated from the first Oak Creek Master Watershed Steward (MWS) Program sponsored by the Oak Creek Watershed Council in partnership with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.
The Steward Associates have a further 40 hours of service with the OCWC before they are designated Master Watershed Stewards.
The Master Watershed Steward Program is the cornerstone of our group’s celebration of The Year of the Volunteer – 2011. Funding for the Program is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s Water Quality Division.
Oak Creek Watershed Improvement Plan: Technical Update
• Sampling sites were selected at a joint meeting of ADEQ and OCWIC on June 29, 2011.
• A sampling training for team leaders and volunteers was conducted June 30, 2011 at Pine Flats by the University of Arizona water quality lab—Dr. Channah Rock and Kelley Riley
• Field reconnaissance of baseline, hot spot and stormwater sites has been completed included GPSing coordinates, photographs, and site characterization.
• A total of 55 samples (from 23 individual sites) have been collected and analyzed for E. coli.
• Field parameters (stream flow, air & water temp., pH, conductivity, TDS, dissolved oxygen) were collected at all of the baseline and hotspot sites sampled.
• Sampling data has been entered into an Excel spreadsheet and preliminary statistical analysis conducted.
• WIP Chapter 1 (description of historical studies and background) of the Watershed Improvement Plan is complete.
• WIP Chapter 2 (description of watershed investigation methods, results and conclusions) has a detailed outline.
What is E. coli?
(Editor: Summarized from Water Quality 101- a presentation by Channah Rock PhD)
Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacterium naturally found in the intestines and the feces of warm-blooded animals, and is commonly used as an indicator of fecal pollution of water. There are many different types of E. coli. Most are harmless, but some may cause illness. E. coli are used as indicators because they indicate fecal contamination, suggest the presence of pathogens, are easy to collect and analyze, and are relatively safe to handle and generally harmless.
The presence of E. coli bacteria in Oak Creek indicates that the water has been contaminated with the fecal material of humans or other animals. If E. coli is present, the source water may have been contaminated by pathogens or disease-producing bacteria or viruses which can also exist in fecal material. The presence of fecal contamination is an indicator that a potential health risk exists for individuals exposed to this water.
<<<< Diapers and liquor bottle discarded near Oak Creek below Mission Rancho
Diaper bundle south of Encinoso Day Use >>>>
Photos taken by Lee Luedeker, Wildlife Manager, Arizona Game & Fish, shortly after July 4, 2011 weekend, between Mile Markers 379 and 380 in Oak Creek Canyon. Five diapers were found in the creek zone (below high water mark); 4 at the edge of parking areas on the shoulder of 89A; and 3 were on the terrace between high water mark and the shoulder.
OCWIP is a community-driven project, based on a scientific approach, and designed to identify and reduce, if not eliminate, fecal contamination. However, OCWC recognizes that without continuing involvement, and understanding, from the watershed community on an on-going basis, permanently removing Oak Creek from Arizona’s list of impaired waters due to nonattainment of water quality standards, will be an overwhelming challenge.
Oak Creek is the thread that weaves together the fabric of our watershed community, as well as being vital to its economic, recreational and natural future. The Oak Creek Watershed Council is committed to preserving the integrity of Oak Creek and recognizes that its stewardship must be a part of the watershed community culture
To this end, the mission of the Oak Creek Community Outreach Program (OCCOP) will be to educate residents and visitors to Oak Creek to consistently use practices that will protect the health of the creek. Rather than the strewing of used diapers, animal and human feces, around many areas of Oak Creek as is common now, recreators will be educated and enabled to dispose of fecal waste sanitarily. Visitors will be encouraged to properly dispose of trash, as well as left-over food and refreshments, so as not to attract forest animals such as skunks and raccoons that add to the fecal contamination.
A better understanding, and participation, by the watershed community, will ensure the legacy of a pristine, and trouble-free, Oak Creek for future generations, and improve the quality of life for those who live within the watershed.
The Oak Creek Watershed Council is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 corporation dedicated to the preserving the integrity of Oak Creek, and the Oak Creek watershed environment.
For more information call (928) 554-5460 or visit www.oakcreekwatershed.org