Education & Technical Assistance  »  Stream Watch

North Carolina's lakes, streams and rivers are among our state's most precious resources.  Their waters anchor us, giving us a sense of history and place.  Their calming strength is a source of inspiration.  They are a crucial part of our environmental neighborhood, our habitat.

Like neighborhoods, habitats need to be protected.  Clean waterways are as important as safe neighborhoods.  The quality of water in our streams affects the quality of life for all living things.  But growth, development, and carelessness threaten the health of even the most pristine North Carolina streams.  Pushed to their limits by the increasing demands of our society, our streams and rivers now show signs of stress.

Those in the best position to notice the signs of a stream's distress are its neighbors, the people who live along its banks or use its waters.

The realization that local residents are best suited to keep an eye on their nearby waterways is what prompted North Carolina to begin project Stream Watch.  With Stream Watch, citizens groups "adopt" a waterway, or a portion of one, and act on its behalf.  Stream Watchers become the adoptive parents of a stream and, as such, become its primary caretakers.

With the help of the Department of Environment, and Natural Resources' Division of Water Resources, Stream Watchers become informed stewards, learning how to react to the changing stream conditions.  Local efforts combined with state support allow North Carolina's 37,000 miles of waterways to be thoroughly monitored by those with the best view?local residents.

Who are North Carolina's Stream Watchers?

The make-up of the more than 200 existing Stream Watch groups is as varied as the bodies of water that they've adopted.  Elementary school students, scout troops, businesses and retirement groups have all shown the concern for the preservation of our environment which unites Stream Watchers.  Stream Watch groups can be started from scratch or existing organizations can adopt streams.  Group sizes range from one or two members to several hundred.

What is expected from Stream Watchers?

Stream Watch groups are asked to conduct two visual monitoring and litter cleanup sessions per year.  They also are encouraged to become the local experts on their streams' dimensions, history and wildlife, and act on behalf of the streams' best interests.  Once you learn to understand what it is your stream is trying to tell you, you will be able to translate its concerns to others.