The aquatic life in Greensboro's streams is monitored to help determine the overall health of a stream segment. The Water Quality Section of the Water Resources Department monitors both fish and benthic macroinvertebrates, such as aquatic insects, mussels and crayfish.
There are 33 benthic macroinvertebrate sites and eight fish monitoring sites. Since aquatic insects cannot swim up and down the creek to avoid unhealthy conditions, and some insects are more tolerant of pollution than others, aquatic insects provide a good source of information about stream conditions.
Monitoring Fish in Greensboro's Streams
Fish in Greensboro's streams are collected and monitored by a technique called electrofishing. A backpack electrofisher is used to momentarily stun the fish so that Stormwater Management staff can collect them with dip nets. Fish are then identified, measured, and counted. Stormwater Management staff also observe the health of the fish to see whether they have sores or diseases, which helps indicate whether the water is polluted. After this information is recorded, the fish are released back into the stream, unharmed. The information collected about the stream fish is used to help the Stormwater Management Division determine the health of Greensboro's stream environments.
Monitoring Benthic Macroinvertebrates in Greensboro's Streams
Benthic macroinvertebrates (including aquatic insects, mussels, and crayfish) in Greensboro's streams are collected and monitored by the Stormwater Management Division as another indicator of the water quality in our streams. Macroinvertebrates can be found in different areas of a stream, such as riffles, in leaf packs, in the sand, and under logs.
After the macroinvertebrates are separated from debris, they are preserved and sent to a laboratory for identification and counting. The information collected about the benthic macroinvertebrates is used to help the Stormwater Management Division determine the health of Greensboro's stream environments.