What is SQM?
Stream Quality Monitoring (SQM) is done on river corridors in the Scenic Rivers Program.
Small aquatic organisms (macroinvertebrates) are collected from a stream and surveyed to determine which types are present and how frequently they occur. The organisms are returned to the water while the data are used to determine the health of that portion of the stream.
Macroinvertebrates are highly effective barometers of a river's health because they have varying tolerances of pollution. Surveying the presence, quantity, and diversity of macroinvertebrates can indicate potential problems.
Because SQM is done by volunteers and doesn't require any chemical analysis, biological monitoring is a simple and cost-effective method of testing a stream's health. The Stream Quality Monitors observe firsthand any changes occurring in the river.
SQM volunteers fill out assessment forms for their assigned stations a few times per year, which helps the division prepare a cumulative index value for each stream station. These values rank a stream's health as excellent, good, fair or poor at the time of monitoring, and are a direct result of the diversity of collected macroinvertebrates.
Assessment forms are compiled into a yearly report. As the data accumulates, seasonal and other normal fluctuations can become predictable. Ongoing monitoring is essential to protecting the health of Ohio's Scenic Rivers. Abnormal changes can indicate potential pollution problems, which would prompt further investigation.