ARK/FOSC Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring

The 2020 program

September 2020 saw the successful conclusion of the summer’s new citizen science water quality monitoring program. Friends of Sligo Creek partnered with Anacostia Riverkeeper, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Corazon Latino, and Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek on a new volunteer-centric water quality monitoring program funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. COVID-19 shortened this year’s monitoring season, which ran from late June through late September.

Every other Wednesday morning, volunteers measured water temperature, air temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen at two sites along Sligo Creek: in Silver Spring near the parking pull-off along Sligo Creek Parkway just downstream of Wayne Avenue, and at the confluence of Brashears Run and Sligo Creek in Takoma Park. They also collected and delivered water samples to Anacostia Riverkeeper for further bacterial and turbidity analysis at its lab. Volunteers at the Sligo Creek sites included Elinor Colbourn, Alan Abrams, Gwen Sletten, Eliza Reed, Jacob Konick and Ally Ratkowski-Howe.


In brief, the 2020 data indicate that while Sligo Creek is well-oxygenated and usually quite clear (there is very little suspended sediment in the water), its coliform bacteria levels typically do not meet levels deemed safe for contact, and it carries a larger dissolved ion load than most of the other waterways in the study.

Two locations in Sligo Creek were selected for monitoring, labeled SC-1 and SC-2 on the map:

(1) SC-1 is between Wayne Ave. and Piney Branch Rd., near the parking pull-off along Sligo Creek Parkway; and

(2) SC-2 is near the first parking lot on Sligo Creek Parkway downstream from Maple Ave.

Photos showing both locations were posted on the websites of Anacostia River Keeper and Friends of Sligo Creek. The sites themselves were marked by orange tape tied to nearby trees.

The 2021 Program

It appears the program will be renewed for next summer, possibly expanding to include new sites on Sligo Creek, Long Branch and Northwest Branch. If you’d like to learn more about participating in the 2021 program, please keep an eye on the Water Quality section of this website, or contact anyone on the FOSC Water Quality team.

Fleetwood Terrace

Fleetwood Terrace testing site