The 125-mile long Niangua River meanders northward from the town of Marshfield on I-44 to the Lake of the Ozarks. Its watershed covers more than 658,000 acres and includes the Little Niangua River, Macks Creek, and the interestingly named Greasy Creek. Several springs feed the Niangua River, including the popular trout-fishing destination, Bennett Spring.
On May 7, 2011, 18 groups of volunteers collected 85 water samples at 78 sites across the Niangua River watershed. Our plan was to measure the water quality of this important Lake of the Ozarks tributary using volunteers and the existing University of Missouri/laboratory framework. Because of the large area and number of samples, we chose the "snapshot" method of gathering as many data points as possible in a single day.
To prepare for the training sessions, LMVP staff printed a 36" by 22" topographic map of the watershed, put identification labels on sampling containers and created the paperwork required to record all the necessary information. We had two training sessions for volunteers, one in Camdenton at the Missouri Department of Conservation office and the other at the lodge at Bennett Spring State Park. Because all we required was a bottle of water, training was a rather simple process. Our biggest concern was that samplers might hit the bottom with their sample bottle or accidentally sample the sediment "cloud" they kicked up when walking in the water. This was easily addressed by having volunteers wade into the stream and wait for the sediment cloud to wash away, then reach upstream to gather the sample. If the water was shallow at the sampling site, we provided the volunteer with an additional smaller bottle that could be submerged in the water without disturbing the bottom. Most of the training time was spent picking out sampling sites on our map. After training, volunteers went home with a sampling bottle and data sheet for each site they planned to visit.
Sampling Day, 5/7/2011