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Volunteers Help Monitor Eno River

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ORANGE COUNTY — North Carolina has 37,000 miles of waterways, and only a fraction of the resources it takes to monitor water quality.

Some Triangle residents are volunteering to help, by taking a living snapshot of the Eno River.

Catching bugs and fish may look like child's play, but on the Eno, it is also part of a serious effort to monitor water quality. Volunteers are learning how to recognize and retrieve the fish, flies, and snails that live in the river. The presence or absence of certain species can provide clues about how healthy the water is.

"They're used as indicator species of water quality. And when you find certain species in the water, that can indicate the actual health and conditions of life in the river," Kathy Lee of the Eno River Association said.

Some of the volunteers who signed up for the "Stream Watch" program will make it a family project. Others are teachers or youth group leaders who want to teach kids a hands-on lesson about the environment.

"A lot of our kids live in Hillsborough and they cross the Eno twice a day on the school bus. So we want them to understand that it's important to keep it clean and healthy," volunteer John Waszak said.

The stream watch volunteers will visit the Eno four times a year and record what they find. Over time, they will look for trends that could indicate a change in water quality.

"A lot of the state agencies simply don't have the resources to send people out on a regular basis," said Lee.

Volunteers are eager to get started. As early as next week, the Eno will have a new group of caretakers -- the residents which live around it.

The "stream watchers" will report any troubling changes they find in the Eno to the state agencies who monitor water quality.


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