Photo courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Program


Communicating and Educating Water Stewardship

RiverTrends aims to educate citizens on their communities’ impacts on water quality and to track conditions of waterways in Virginia flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. Volunteer monitors see firsthand how local actions impact their waterways, then use this knowledge to encourage others to be stewards of their rivers and surrounding lands, while providing valuable baseline water quality data.

Launched in 1985, the Alliance’s Citizen Water Quality Monitoring Project, known as RiverTrends, provides training, equipment, and technical support for organizations and volunteers to conduct chemical and physical water quality monitoring in their communities throughout Virginia.

RiverTrends volunteers visit designated sites year-round on a monthly basis to collect observational data and water samples for dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, salinity (where appropriate), and water clarity. Some monitors optionally collect bacteria and nutrient data.

All volunteers are trained by Certified Watershed Coordinators under the Alliance’s Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP). Training includes a certification session where monitors learn about water quality and testing methods and an annual recertification session to check monitoring equipment, chemicals, and methods. Volunteers may collect data at a stream on their property, a known recreational access point, or other high priority sites identified by the Alliance and VA DEQ.

All data are submitted to the Chesapeake Data Explorer and sent annually to Virginia DEQ for use in Virginia’s 305(d)/303(b) Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report and the Chesapeake Bay Program through the CMC. These data are publicly accessible and can be used by local groups to assess stream health and to identify areas that need additional monitoring.

Current Monitoring Groups

  • Caledon State Park
  • Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School
  • Friends of the Rappahannock
  • Green Aquia
  • James City County/Historic Rivers Master Naturalists
  • James River Master Naturalists
  • Middle Peninsula Master

How to Volunteer

Join us! Being a volunteer helps provide valuable insight on the quality of water in your area. Volunteers learn about local and Chesapeake Bay-wide water issues, monitoring techniques, and what each parameter means for the health of their waterbody. Become a citizen scientist for your local creek or river today!

Trainings and recertifications are held annually. We will work with you to schedule a training in your area. If you have ever wondered about the water you fish, swim, recreate, or enjoy in other ways, RiverTrends is the opportunity for you! We will provide you with annual trainings, all of the necessary sampling materials, and a step-by- step instruction manual to perform each test.

To learn more about the program or volunteer, fill out the form below or contact our program coordinator Sophie Stern.

Our Impact

As of 2020, RiverTrends currently supports over 130 active monitors at over 100 monitoring locations throughout Virginia.

In 2021, RiverTrends is aiming to expand its reach to new monitoring groups in DC and Maryland.

Photo courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Program