FOSC Chemical/Bacterial Water Quality Monitoring Program

FOSC’s Physical and Chemical Water Quality Monitoring program began in 2009, measuring three parameters at two outfall sites. It grew out of a review of Sligo Creek’s stormwater system and its water quality conducted by Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection and the Center for Watershed Protection (CWP). Research conducted by CWP in Sligo Creek and Baltimore City indicated that illicit discharges – illegal discharges of pollutants into waterways – are a much greater contributor to nutrient and bacterial pollution than is widely recognized. Eliminating these discharges would help make significant progress toward cleaning up Sligo and our other local streams, as well as help bring us closer to meeting the pollution standards designed to restore the environmental health of the Chesapeake Bay.

As part of this effort to make our local waterways fishable and swimmable again, FOSC’s Physical/Chemical Water Quality team regularly monitors (usually once each month) twelve sites along Sligo Creek. Eight of these sites are in the Creek itself, and four are in stormwater outfalls or stream tributaries of the Creek. The Map of Outfall Monitoring Sites shows both active and legacy sites.

The Water Quality team tests for a range of physical parameters and environmental pollutants, including turbidity, water temperature, pH, conductivity, total dissolved solids, chlorine, chloride (salt), nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, copper, and Coliform bacteria. We also test levels of particulate air pollution and noise, and record subjective measures of flow rate, algae, odor, and suds. We post our results on our website under FOSC Physical and Chemical Data and FOSC Coliform Data, and regularly share them with Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection staff so that they are aware of our findings.

In addition, FOSC’s Water WatchDogs program provides residents and visitors with an easy way to report apparent water pollution to DEP and FOSC, so that it can be investigated and stopped, and a fine possibly issued.