Systematically monitoring and recording the water quality of Sligo Creek, and educating the public about the importance of clean water for fish and wildlife
What the Water Quality Committee is Doing Now
Volunteers are testing this summer’s water quality
Jackson Ave testing site in Takoma Park
Water quality volunteers test for each of the 3 sites along Sligo and for 1 site on Long Branch. Volunteers record water temperature, air temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, and turbidity, and take water samples to be analyzed for bacteria at Anacostia Riverkeeper’s lab.
The data from the program helps FOSC, ARK, Montgomery Parks, and state and local agencies learn more about the chemical and biological health of Sligo and Long Branch. To volunteer next year, please contact the Water Quality committee chair Pat Ratkowski at [email protected]
WQ Committee to Continue 2 SaltWatch Initiatives This Winter – Volunteers needed!
1) Water Testing for Road SaltA program in which volunteers test the level of road salt in Sligo waters before, during and after a snow event. The WQ Committee provides the simple testing kits through a partnership with the Izaak Walton League. Committee members also provide guidance on selecting a location to test and coordinate testing dates/times across the Sligo watershed. Check out the new FOSC SaltWatch Road Salt Initiatives page for more information on volunteering for winter 2022-2023.
2) Road Salt Pile Reporting If you see an excessive salt pile in the Sligo Creek Watershed, please send an email with location, date, time and a photo to [email protected]. We will try to get the County, State or responsible party to remove excessive salt piles before they go into Sligo Creek.
Spotlight on: Impact of Road Salt - Fish and Salamander Kill
More than 200 fish and salamanders were found dead in the Flora Lane tributary on February 25, apparently the result of road-salt pollution from the Capital Beltway, which abuts the little stream.
Our FOSC water quality chair, Pat Ratkowski, was in the process of leading a team doing water testing in Sligo that evening when they noticed a couple dozen dead fish in the tributary. Exploring further up the stream, they noticed many more casualties among fish and salamanders. Their bodies showed… Read more
Spotlight on: Microplastics in our waterways
The impact of microplastics is an important issue in Montgomery County where it is proposed for a section of Ellsworth Drive in downtown Silver Spring. FOSC opposes the use of artificial turf on Ellsworth. See the Ellsworth Synthetic Turf page under the Current Issues page of the Advocacy tabfor more information on FOSC’s concerns about synthetic turf.
FOSC Water Quality Committee volunteers have worked to create public awareness on the unseen impact of plastic pollution on humans and on waterways, including fresh waterways such as Sligo Creek. Dr. Jesse Meiller and Dr. Kathy Michels discussed the issue at a February 2020 talk sponsored by FOSC.
Scientists are finding that microplastics are everywhere in our waterways, whether salt water or freshwater. Ongoing research shows that most microplastics are harmful to living creatures and plants life due to their chemical content which does not break down (known as “forever chemicals”.) Synthetic turf is one example of a product that leaches “forever” chemicals as well as plastic bits that are ingested by wildlife.
Report on ARK/FOSC Summer Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program
Our 2020 summer Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring partnership with Anacostia Riverkeeper, Corazón Latino, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek ended in mid September. The program was quite successful, with a variety of volunteers taking turns monitoring two sites along Sligo Creek, and five others in the Anacostia River watershed.
“The Coliform results were disappointing. I don’t believe any site in the program ever met fishable or swimmable water standards during the summer, though not entirely unexpected given what our FOSC program has found over the years. I will share highlights from the full results on the WQ page shortly. FOSC participated again in 2021, and I think ARK is hoping to expand the scope of the program to new sites and tributaries if possible.”
— Pat Ratkowski, Water Quality Committee Chairperson
Ongoing Water Quality Committee programs
Volunteers for the Water Quality committee are also running several ongoing programs to help preserve and plan for the health of Sligo Creek:
Organizing teams to monitor the chemical and biological health of the Creek.
Running the Water WatchDog program, which provides the public an immediate way to report water pollution as it’s happening to the Montgomery County Parks and Environmental Protection Departments who investigate and may issue fines. Volunteers keep records of contamination events to identify ongoing problems and help resolve them.
Educating the public through water quality presentations and monthly monitoring reports.
Generating support and advocating for state and local policies that will continue to improve the health of the Creek and its surrounding valley.
Wouldn’t it be great if the water in Sligo Creek were clean enough so that people could wade or swim in it without worry? The FOSC Water Quality Committee is working to improve the water quality of Sligo Creek so that it will meet its potential as a natural and recreational resource. While it is currently home to a surprising variety of wildlife, keeping the creek waters healthy for wildlife is an ongoing challenge as the region becomes more populated.
The Committee and FOSC’s members are working with local agencies and nonprofit organizations to meet the challenge, knowing that a healthier Sligo Creek both enhances our everyday lives and benefits the waters and wildlife of the Anacostia Watershed, the Potomac River, and the Chesapeake Bay.
Join the Water Quality Committee
Join the Water Quality Committee
Are you interested in improving Sligo’s water quality?
Consider joining the Water Quality Committee!
The Water Quality Committee works on projects aimed at understanding and improving Sligo Creek’s water quality.
FOSC’s Chemical Water Quality Team regularly monitors 13 sites along the Creek and its tributaries for ten different parameters, keeping track of the Creek’s water quality and the condition of its channel and surrounding habitats. Take a look at the Team’s summary findings on the Water Quality Monitoring Data page. A sample FOSC Water Quality Monitoring Report and a sample Field sheet appear elsewhere on this page.
We try to learn about and promote Sligo Creek monitoring being done by others, and when appropriate, use our findings to advocate for local, county and regional policy changes. Information about our activities is posted on the Friends of Sligo Creek newsletter and listserv. Join FOSC to receive the newsletter.
If you would like to join the committee, participate in Committee activities or have questions, please email Pat Ratkowski, Committee chairperson, through the Contact FOSC page or email WQ at fosc.org.