The Ausable River Association (AsRA) believes that replicable, science-based water quality monitoring broadens our understanding of and ability to respond to three threats to the watershed: road salt, phosphorus, and climate change. Water quality monitoring is essential to understanding these challenges, developing plans to mitigate them, establishing goals, and evaluating and quantifying progress. AsRA has developed the following monitoring programs within the Ausable River watershed.
Bi-Weekly River Monitoring
We monitor temperature, dissolved oxygen, specific conductance, and pH at 25 stream locations throughout the watershed on a bi-weekly basis. This effort helps us identify where major water quality problems occur and predict future problems. We are tracking two primary pollutants, chloride and sodium. Both enter the river as a result of winter road deicing practices. Specific conductance measures the ability of water to conduct an electrical current, which indirectly measures the salinity of the water.
AsRA is monitoring water quality at Mirror Lake, Lake Everest, Upper Cascade Lake, Lower Cascade Lake, Taylor Pond, and Butternut Pond. This work has been supported by Mirror Lake Watershed Association, Town of Wilmington, NY State Department of State, and private donors. In addition to collecting surface water samples from each lake during the summer months, AsRA's staff also takes vertical profiles of temperature, dissolved oxygen, specific conductance, and pH. These data help us understand the impact phosphorus, road salt, and climate change are having on our lakes.
Chubb River Continuous Monitoring Stations
Working in partnership with the Adirondack Watershed Institute, AsRA maintains five continuous monitoring stations on the Chubb River. These stations continually monitor water height, temperature, and conductivity on an hourly basis. Coupled with regular discharge readings and water chemistry sampling these stations give us a detailed picture of the total amount of nutrients and pollutants being exported from the Lake Placid area. This work is critical to understanding how road salt moves through and exported from the watershed.
River Temperature Monitoring
AsRA has placed over 20 temperature data loggers in the Ausable River to provide a continuous measure of water temperature. Warmer waters seriously threaten the survival of many native Adirondack species, most notably Brook Trout. Given the challenges posed by global climate change, our goal is to understand where waters are warming in the watershed, whether our restoration efforts have a cooling effect, and the long-term suitability of the Ausable and its tributaries as habitat for Brook Trout.