The “Colorado River Watch” program is an on-going volunteer water quality-monitoring program co-sponsored by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and the Colorado Watershed Assembly. It is designed to provide the CPW and the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission with high quality water ecosystem data for use in making or revising water quality standards.

River Watch began in the spring of 1989 with two-hour trainings at six schools along the Yampa River. The program began with two primary goals that remain steadfast today. First, to provide a hands-on experience for individuals to understand the value and function of the river ecosystem. Second, to collect quality aquatic ecosystem data over space and time to be used for the Clean Water Act and other water quality decision-making processes. Read the whole story about River Watch.

Several Colorado Trout Unlimited chapters have joined the program by collecting and analyzing water samples from designated sites by chapter. These samples are analyzed for pH, temperature, hardness, alkalinity, dissolved oxygen and heavy metals. Chapter members conduct the water sample analyses, except for the nutrient and heavy metal samples which are analyzed by an outside CDOW laboratory. Twice a year, during low water flow conditions – typically in the early spring and autumn – samples are collected for macro-invertebrates.

Insects in white tray collected from the South Platte River.The most exciting part of River Watch is the annual Bug Hunt.  Once a year we are requested to go out and collect macro invertebrate samples (aka: bugs!) from our water quality site.  Basically it is “let’s see what lives in the river this year”.  As fly fishers and fly tiers this is a lot of fun.  The Cutthroat Chapter usually collects bugs in October or early November.  The bugs are collected then sent to a lab to be identified and counted.  Everyone is welcome to join in on this event.  Watch for this year’s event and come on out.  Bring your camera, your bug books, your notebooks and your youthful curiosity.