SRWW Volunteers Study Bacteria in Clear Creek

posted Nov 12, 2018, 2:29 PM by Karen Schaffer   [ updated Nov 13, 2018, 8:02 AM ]

Salt River Watershed Watch volunteers were concerned about high levels of bacteria in Clear Creek, which runs through Shelbyville, KY.  Elevated levels of E. coli bacteria were found in SRWW monitoring downstream of Shelby Lake and at Red Orchard Park This creek is runs through several beautiful parks with walking trails and canoe launches, and Shelby Lake is a popular fishing and boating destination.  These amenities provide wonderful outdoor recreational opportunities, but the elevated bacteria in Clear Creek concern.

The statewide volunteer monitoring organization, Watershed Watch in Kentucky (WWKY) approved funding for this project at their August, 2018 meeting.  The project proposal presentation is can be accessed HERE.

A team of 7 SRWW volunteers was assembled, and 11 monitoring sites were identified along Clear Creek, Mulberry Creek and an un-named tributary.  A map of monitoring sites and results can be accessed HEREPhotos of the monitoring sites and sampling location information can be accessed HERE.

The team collected E. coli samples that were analyzed by Microbac Laboratories in Louisville.  A non-laboratory testing method for E. coli bacteria was also used.  This method is called Compartment Bag Test (CBT), developed by Dr. Mark Sobsey of University of North Carolina and marketed by Aquagenx.  The CBT method required more steps to be completed by the volunteers, but cost 50% less than the lab test.  Training slides can be accessed HERE

Samples were collected at 9 or 10 sites on October 1, 11 and 23, 2018.  Samples were analyzed in the field for pH, temperature and conductivity.  The team tested for E. coli bacteria using the Aquagenx CBT kits and also delivered samples to Microbac for analysis.  The bacteria results were grouped into categories of Low, Medium, High and Very High based on concentration.  The lab and CBT results were compared by bacteria category.  A presentation summarizing the study can be accessed HERE

Results of the study show that: 
  • Bacteria was elevated throughout the watershed
  • There were no consistent patterns or obvious hot spots for E. coli bacteria
  • Observed sources of bacteria included waterfowl, other wildlife, pets, livestock, potentially homeless people camping near Clear Creek
  • E. coli bacteria concentrations were higher after wet weather
  • 79% of samples (27 of 34) were in same E. coli category ~ CBT was an effective alternative to lab testing
  • Trained volunteers can successfully use the CBT method to:
    • Conduct watershed studies, recreational area evaluation
    • Conduct testing

SRWW 2018 Annual Conference a big success!

posted Dec 11, 2017, 3:16 PM by Karen Schaffer   [ updated Mar 6, 2018, 2:48 PM ]

The SRWW 2018 Conference was held on February 15, 2018 at the offices of the US Geological Survey in Louisville KY. The conference was attended by 81 people who came out to learn about Salt River Watershed Watch and other projects and programs in this watershed. Conference participants included 19 volunteers, 33 from schools, 12 from government and 17 interested citizens. JoAnn Palmer from the Kentucky Division of Water provided a refresher training on monitoring procedures for existing volunteers.

Students from Fern Creek, DuPont Manual and Louisville Male High Schools hung posters and science fair displays to highlight water science projects that they have done with mentoring and assistance from SRWW Volunteers. Ben Miles from Shire Environmental Services hung maps developed through the Salt River Watershed Conservation Mapping Project, that was also presented at the Conference. Salt River Watershed Watch and The Nature Conservancy had tables with information and sign up opportunities.

The conference opened with a presentation by Mike Griffin, Director of the USGS Ohio-Indiana-Kentucky Water Resources Science Center. Mike explained the expanded and very sophisticated monitoring and assessment capabilities available through the newly formed regional science center.

David Wicks gave an overview of the SRWW Environmental Education Grant, awarded to SRWW in 2017. Through this grant, SRWW has mentored students and assisted teachers with locally based water resource education, science fair, class and individual projects and lead guided canoe trips on Beargrass Creek. Students from Fern Creek, DuPont Manual and Louisville Male High Schools presented their projects. One of the presenters, Anjali Chadha won the International Science & Engineering Fair in 2017 with her project to develop an arsenic sensor. Her project was featured in the 2018 Sundance Film Festival film “Inventing Tomorrow” about student scientists. The water resource education theme continued with a presentation about SRWW teaching educators and students in China about watersheds and monitoring.

Ben Miles from Shire Environmental presented the Salt River Watershed Conservation Mapping Project, which is underway with participation from many local and regional partners. Maps of areas that are opportunities for conservation were shown and plans for the next phase of the project were described.

Karen Schaffer presented findings of the 2017 SRWW monitoring program and plans for SRWW in 2018. Similar to past years, volunteers found dissolved oxygen, pH, and conductivity met Kentucky's Water Quality Criteria at most sites. E. coli bacteria were elevated at many sites and about half of the sites had elevated conductivity. A range of habitat and benthic community conditions were found.

In 2018, SRWW will be holding 3 training sessions for new volunteers in April. Sampling dates for bacteria, stream habitat and biology have been set for May, June, July and September - Click here to see the SRWW
Calendar. SRWW will finish work on the Environmental Education Grant and will seek funding to continue this work. SRWW volunteers will plant native trees to assist The Nature Conservancy with their Mill Creek Ecological Enhancements project in western Louisville. SRWW is also planning up to 4 canoe trips for volunteers.  We will also investigate monitoring sites that had two or more issues identified in 2018 sampling.

SRWW is very thankful for use of USGS facilities for the meeting, support from Kentucky Division of Water, Watershed Watch in Kentucky and Kentucky Waterways Alliance. Funding to support our work was provided by the Virginia Environmental Endowment, the US Environmental Protection Agency and contributions from volunteers and conference participants.

Click HERE for the Conference agenda, with links to presentations, handouts, more photos, contacts and the 2018 training and sampling schedule. Contact Karen Schaffer at for more information.

SRWW Awarded $5,000 Education and Outreach Grant!

posted Sep 7, 2017, 9:59 AM by Karen Schaffer   [ updated Feb 24, 2018, 2:51 PM ]

Salt River Watershed Watch was awarded a $5,000 grant from Kentucky Division of Water's Education and Outreach Mini-Grant Program.  The grants fund local educational, outreach and organization activities to improve water quality issues and build capacity for future projects.  The goals of the project are:

1. Highlight the historic, cultural, ecological, and emotional value of Beargrass Creek.  
2. Provide information on urban impervious surfaces and use of best management practices to minimize adverse impacts.
3. Empower 8th grade science teachers to use Beargrass Creek in the study of watersheds.  
4. Encourage student research on water quality in this urban watershed.  
5. Engage the community in a visioning process leading to a cleaner and more accessible Beargrass Creek.

Grant funds and SRWW in-kind services will be used to:
  • Purchase and distribute 100 copies of the documentary - Beargrass - The Creek in Your Backyard - to 8th grade teachers and community groups
  • Purchase 4 water quality test kits for use by teachers and students
  • Provide 4 water quality training classes
  • 10 guided canoe trips
  • Provide mentoring to students for science fair projects
The grant application and other project documents can be downloaded below and project events are on the SRWW Calendar.  The interim draft report is now available below

For more information on the project and how you can be involved, please contact Russ Barnett (502.852.1851, or David Wicks (502.671.3595,

WDRB Story: Popular Cherokee Park swimming hole teeming with E.coli

posted Oct 28, 2016, 8:47 AM by Karen Schaffer

A WDRB Investigation finds dangerous levels of disgusting Ecoli in a popular swimming area. In this special assignment report, Sterling Riggs reveals what’s in the water at Cherokee Park.  WDRB tested the water in the Middle Fork of Beargrass Creek at Big Rock and found elevated levels of bacteria.  These results are consistent with SRWW special study of water quality at Big Rock and our recent data.  David Wicks was one of the people interviewed for the story.

Beargrass: The Creek in Your Backyard Film Premiere

posted Sep 21, 2016, 8:10 AM by Karen Schaffer

Thursday, October 27, 2016
Doors open 6:00pm -- Film and Discussion 7:30pm
The Clifton Center Theater -   2117 Payne St, Louisville, KY 40206

Join us at The Clifton Center Theater on October 27th for the premiere of noted filmmaker Morgan Atkinson of Duckworks’ latest documentary: Beargrass: The Creek in Your Backyard, a film focusing on Louisville’s own Beargrass Creek and the impact that everyone living within its 61 square mile watershed has on the waterway.

This project began as a crowd funded Kickstarter initiative:  The Beargrass Kick Starter Video, and took two years of exploring, filming and editing to complete. Atkinson worked with the Louisville Audubon Society, Metro Council districts eight and nine, MSD, and other individual donors to produce a film that will encourage local neighborhood and community association leaders to take action to protect and restore the creek.

Doors will open at 6:00pm for a public reception preceding the film premiere at 7:30pm. This is an open community event to support the restoration efforts on our creek.  There is a suggested donation of $5.00 at the door, and proceeds will benefit:  Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Beargrass Creek Alliance, and Salt River Watershed Watch, three groups working to restore the Beargrass. Many thanks to Councilmen Tom Owen and Bill Hollander for not only sponsoring this  event, but for their tireless support of cleaning up our creek.

The Louisville Metro Government Office of Sustainability and the Louisville Sustainability Council will celebrate with us in support of community action as a kick-off for the 2016 Sustainability Summit to be held Saturday, October 29th at Bellarmine University.

A trailer for the film can be found here: Beargrass:  The Creek in Your Backyard.  

More information about this event can be found in the Press Release and Flyer available below.  Please help to get the word out by sharing this with family, friends, co-workers and other organizations.  We hope to see you there!

WDRB Story on Floyds Fork, SRWW Interview

posted Jul 18, 2016, 3:48 PM by Karen Schaffer

WDRB's Sterling Riggs did an investigative reporting story on water quality in Floyds Fork.  WDRB tested the water at the 6 canoe launches in the summer of 2015 and found elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria in some samples.  Their results were consistent with the elevated levels of e. coli bacteria we found in August 2015.  The story included an interview with Russ Barnett and Karen Schaffer and a link to the SRWW website is now on WDRB's page.  The story and WDRB sample results are posted to their website.  Thanks to the many people who made the Floyds Fork bacteria study possible!

SRWW Riparian Corridor Enhancement Project

posted Jul 18, 2016, 2:39 PM by Karen Schaffer   [ updated Mar 20, 2017, 11:10 AM ]

The Salt River Watershed Watch was recently awarded a generous grant for a project to plant trees, shrubs and grasses in riparian areas to improve water quality.   The SRWW has committed to plant 1000-2000 trees, shrubs, and grasses in riparian areas as a way to improve water quality.   We will focus on Breckinridge, Bullitt, Jefferson, Oldham, and Shelby Counties where we have the highest concentration of volunteers, but we will consider working anywhere in the basin. The project is designed to raise awareness of the importance of the riparian zone, and the important part it plays in water quality. 

We are looking to you, our faithful volunteers to help in implementing this mini-grant.  Opportunities to participate in the project are open to all SRWW volunteers and include: 
  1. Identifying riparian planting sites
  2. Participating in training
  3. Volunteering for site prep and tree planting
More information will follow via email and be posted to this website.  The grant application is posted below.  Steve Perry, SRWW volunteer is the Project Manager.  Steve can be reached at

UPDATE:  The project was completed in March 2017.  SRWW volunteers and project partners planted 1500 trees, 500 shrubs and 300 grasses/sedges and forbs on 4 sites. Project documents, including the final report are available below.  We are planning to work with project partners to continue this project in the future.

Stantec Donates $1,200 to Salt River Watershed Watch!

posted Apr 1, 2016, 2:51 PM by Karen Schaffer   [ updated Feb 24, 2018, 3:00 PM ]

Stantec, a local engineering firm, donated $1,200 to Salt River Watershed Watch in 2016.  This generous donation will be used to pay for analysis of samples collected by our volunteers.  Russ Barnett and David Wicks from the Salt River Watershed Watch Steering Committee accepted the donation from Matt Wagoner and George Athanasakes.  Many thanks to Stantec for their support of volunteer water monitoring efforts!

Salt River Watershed Watch 2018 Training

posted Apr 1, 2016, 1:24 PM by Karen Schaffer   [ updated Mar 21, 2018, 9:40 AM ]

Are you interested in learning how to test the water in a stream?  The Salt River Watershed Watch is providing training sessions this spring.  Previous training in science is not required.  Current volunteers are always welcome to attend to refresh their skills.  

The training consists of about 3 hrs of classroom time, lunch break and about 3 hours of field time.  Volunteers learn about the importance of water monitoring, how to collect samples for laboratory analysis and test water at their monitoring location, how to evaluate the biology and habitat of a stream.  

Free training and water testing kits and materials are loaned to all trained volunteers!  

Please bring lunch and boots or shoes that you can wear in the creek.  You may also want hand sanitizer, water, sun screen, bug spray, pen, clip board.

2018 training sessions are scheduled as follows:

Saturday 4/7/18   9 AM to 3:30 PM - Shelby County Public Library - Central Branch 309 8th Street, Shelbyville, KY 40065

Saturday 4/14/18   9 AM to 3:30 PM - KIPDA Burke Conference Room, 11520 Commonwealth Drive, Louisville, KY 

Saturday 4/21/18   9 AM to 3:30 PM - Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, Research Center Project Room, 2075 Clermont Rd, Clermont, KY 40110

Sunday 4/22/2018    1:00 PM to 4:30 PM - Mercer County Library, 109 W Lexington  Street, Harrodsburg, KY 40330  
** This training covers water monitoring, how to collect samples for laboratory analysis and test water at their monitoring location.  Stream biology and habitat are not included.

Recertification Training - Required every 3 years for current volunteers.  This training is class only, no field work

Tuesday  4/3/18   7:30-8:30 PM - Louisville Free Public Library -  Newburg Branch, 4800 Exeter Ave, Louisville, KY 

Wednesday 4/11/18   7:00-8:00 PM - Bullitt Co Library, Ridgeway Memorial Branch,  127 N Walnut St, Shepherdsville 

Wednesday 4/25/18  - 7:00-8:00 PM   Oldham Co Library, 308 Yager Avenue, LaGrange, Ky. 40031   

Tuesday 5/1/18   6:45-7:45 PM - Spencer Co Library,  168 Taylorsville Rd, Taylorsville, KY 40071  

Registration is required. To register for training, contact JoAnn Palmer at 502-782-7032 or via email to

You can also register on line using your volunteer ID # and basin code SRWW


posted Jun 12, 2014, 5:33 PM by Karen Schaffer   [ updated Feb 24, 2018, 3:02 PM ]

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