Volunteer water quality monitoring is the focus of the Madison Stream Team, a group of local citizens trained to collect water quality data on local streams. The first training was held in June 2010, with experienced staff from the Montana State University Extension Water Quality program and the Montana Watercourse leading the 2 day session. Members of the Madison Stream Team collect data on several local streams identified as impaired by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.
Each spring, our volunteers go through another training, to both refresh and advance their water monitoring skills. Volunteers are assigned in groups of two or three to each stream, and then over the course of the summer each team completes one monitoring day per month on their stream. For 2015, we have 13 volunteers with a combined 48 years of experience in water quality data collection. In 2014, our volunteers contributed over 200 hours monitoring.
The annual budget for the project is approximately $30,000, with which we monitor 41 sites on 8 streams. The land encompassed by this watershed is over 260,000 acres, of which 64% is publicly owned, and around half is grazing land.
The 2015 monitoring season is a significant milestone, as it marks 6 years of gathered data. The data we’ve collected is now being used to identify opportunities where improvements can be made in the streams, and is being used to help guide the drafting of the first Watershed Restoration Plan in the Madison Watershed which is set to be completed in 2017.