about south river federation

 Scientific Monitoring Round Table Discussion by Sarah Giordano

 Fall Community Meeting 10/11/16


Church Creek Restoration: The Headwaters

Background:Church Creek HW map2

This large scale restoration project was constructed in 2014. It is located near the top of Church Creek, just before Church Creek tidal (off of Rt.665).


Observations Before Breaking Ground:

-       Steep ravines deep narrow stream channels

-       Highly eroded

-       Frequent flash floods that repeatedly ripped sediment away from stream banks and washed it, along with other pollutants, into the South River.


Reduce the amount of pollutants entering the main stem of Church Creek from rainwater runoff.


By slowing rainwater surges with below restoration techniques, we expect to capture a significant amount of pollutants that would otherwise flow into Church Creek. We predict that as the restoration site matures into a more stable system, stormwater runoff will have increasingly less of an impact on water.




-       Reconnected the flood plain to create a shallower, wider wetland

-       Installed large step pools with sand/mulch substrate to slow and filter water




Church HW beforeChurch HW after


Assessing Success through Monitoring Programs:church crk infographic

-       Water quality monitoring

  • Dissolved oxygen
  • Acidity
  • Conductivity
  • Turbidity
  • Salinity
  • Chlorophyll

-       Biological Surveys

  • Fish monitoring
  • Amphibian monitoring
  • Avian

-       Future monitoring:

  • Vegetation (both on-land and underwater)
  • Macroinvertebrates

church crk frog infographicResults:

Few trends have surfaced in the first analysis of water quality data


Biological surveys have shown significant differences between pre-restoration and post-restoration data of this Church Creek site.


Close to 300 more individual fish were found in the stream area after restoration than were found before restoration.


The number of individual amphibians found at the site rose to over 500% between from 2013 to 2015!


This is especially exciting because it is unusual to see such a rebound so quickly after installation.


Stay tuned! More data analysis is underway!















Notes From Round Table Discussion

Scientific Monitoring: Monitoring Restoration Efforts in the Church Creek Watershed

  • Private or publicly owned land? – Privately owned
  • Governments vs non-profits role in stream sampling for pollutants
    • Who is responsible for what?
  • Are we sampling for:It takes years for projects to have any results
    • Heavy metals? Not consistently, only in pre-restoration site work-ups.
    • Measure for nutrients? Not consistently, only in pre-restoration site work-ups. Although we are starting to measure nutrients at some tidal sites again.
  • Hard to get any “before” data
  • Who manages the Parole filtering system; who is responsible?What is the potential for data gaps to be filled in by volunteers
    • Overflows from pumping stations at Parole?
    • Data collection? What does the data say?
      • No, we do not have access at the moment, but potential to gain access.

One member said he remembered catching yellow and white perch decades ago in Church Creek and wondered what species were currently there. At the restoration site, they found in 2016: American eel, brown bullhead catfish, eastern mud minnow, golden shiner, green sunfish, mummichog, mosquito fish, and pumpkin sunfish. Farther down the creek near our 10 yr old Wilelinor restoration site, we found the apex predator fish, chain pickerel as well as large mouth bass, and black crappie, all indicators of healthy eco-system.

Stream insects (macroinvertebrates) are indicators of stream health. The Federation participates in MD Dept. of Natural Resources macro survey, where volunteers collect the specimens and they are id’d in a lab for proper identification.

Should the Federation continue this level of monitoring involvement? It is very complicated to track and analyze Water Chemistry while biological responses may be a more immediate and accurate proof of effectiveness. Conclusion is that tracking water chemistry is important because biological response might not accurately tell whether harmful agents are going into the river.

Should the Federation be putting resources toward monitoring? Our restoration initiatives are cutting edge, we don’t have other research models to follow to know how the water quality will be effected, which is why the Federation felt it important to monitor these projects that are at the forefront of large-scale suburban restoration efforts. Participants seemed to agree.