We are working towards creating a region-wide water quality testing program, with hopes that every village on the Kuskokwim will begin testing water in variety of locations. Several villages are currently testing water in the Tier I phase (i.e., baseline testing); and if the need arises, baseline collections will progress to more extensive testing to monitor impaired waters from point sources.
We will be providing training to those communities wishing to start collecting baseline information. Please look at our calendar or contact us for future trainings.
Our Water Quality Program
Water quality is a huge concern on the Kuskokwim River. With so many things impacting, or potentially impacting the health of the Kuskokwim River, it is very important to us to monitor and maintain the baseline data of the Kuskokwim.
The KRWC watershed wide baseline data program is a study that will monitor the overall health of the Kuskokwim River by creating a baseline dataset. The dataset will serve three main purposes; 1) a water-quality reference against which to measure any future changes in the river, 2) identify trends to help predict future changes that will act as a reference for any changes seen in the river in the future, and 3) a baseline database to measure against and to demonstrate/locate point source pollutions.
The KRWC will work with USGS and tribal technicians to sample water characteristics at important locations along the river. Tribal technicians will sample sites near their villages and the technician’s interest, experience, and devotion will be crucial to the success of this study. Sampling sites will correspond with sites USGS has sampled over the previous years; our data will add to data previously collected by the USGS. The overall objective of this program is to provide researchers and managers with the tools to accurately predict future changes, develop effective standards, locate point source pollution and allowing the best possible management of resources for future generations.
A main objective of the baseline dataset is to develop it into a long-term program; the longer the dataset, the more useful the database becomes for analyzing trends and variance over time and over regions. Also, a baseline database for the Kuskokwim will allow focus on sites of contamination concern and perhaps show that sites like certain mines or sewage lagoons are polluting the water (point source). Currently it is difficult to demonstrate point source pollution if there is no baseline to measure against. As the program evolves and develops, we are also going to expand our sampling to identify specific source contaminates as well as begin to determine the impact of non point source pollution on water quality. Non point source pollution can be loosely defined as the culmination of contaminants from multiple sources with geographically diverse boundaries. The availability of Tribal Technicians to help collect the field data and samples is crucial to the long term success of this program. We are focused on helping Tribes develop individual local water quality monitoring programs for their area. We will provide them with workshops focused on designing a local program, developing a QAPP, equipment choices, funding sources and database management; along with providing them with the skills and equipment to participate in this Watershed Wide Monitoring Program. One of the main responsibilities of the KRWC will be to manage the local programs to maintain data cohesion. This will be accomplished by using consistent water quality sampling and processing strategies. The objectives of the Kuskokwim River Watershed Council water quality monitoring effort is to:
1) Establish a baseline water quality sampling program by conduct water quality monitoring at strategically located sites within the basin such that they;
2) provide maximum spatial coverage,
3) are co-located with USGS gauging stations, and
4) are sites with historical water quality data. These sites will be sampled 6 times during open season for purpose of continuing/creating a baseline database.
The following locations are priority sites selected for this project: 1) Kuskokwim River at McGrath, 2) Crooked Creek at Crooked Creek, 3) Kuskokwim River at Napaimute, 4) Holitna River at Sleetmute, 4) Kuskokwim River at Aniak, 5) Kisaralik River above mouth, 6) Kuskokwim River at Akiak, and 7) Kuskokwim River at Napakiak. This objective is referred to as Tier I and will begin in year 1 and continue in subsequent years. Tables 1 and 2 list the parameters to be measured as part of the baseline program. As our water quality project progress, we plan to add more sights to the testing location, Hopefully partnering with communities in the area to obtain our goal of a watershed wide water quality monitoring program.
Understanding Water Quality
Many people are working within the Kuskokwim River Watershed to test the water quality of the river and its tributaries. This guide will help understand the tests that are being performed. In order to have a healthy watershed clean water is needed. To determine that, it is a must to perform water quality testing and understand the results. Once we have the results we can move on to the next step of trying to clean the water or ideally, know that the water in a particular region is clean. We encourage all of the communities within the Kuskokwim Watershed to complete a Quality Assurance Program Plan (QAPP), monitor the water in their community and to share their information with the KRWC and other communities. This will allow us to gain tremendous amounts of information about current conditions as well as create historical water quality knowledge of the watershed. In this guide we will discuss temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity and total solids. There are additional tests that can be done, but these 5 tests can give us a good indication about the health of a river.
Fish Consumption Guidelines & Recommendations
The Alaska Department of Health & Social Services website is a good place to learn about fish facts and fish consumption guidelines. Here's the link to their page: http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/epi/eph/pages/fish/default.aspx
Here's the link for their latest report titled: Pike & Lush in Select Alaska Rivers - Mercury Exposure & Consumption Recommendations. http://epibulletins.dhss.alaska.gov/Document/Display?DocumentId=1825