Long range water quality data is essential to the protection of our water resources. The Volunteer Water Information Network (VWIN) is a cooperative effort among several organizations in Western North Carolina to monitor chemical properties of streams throughout the region. ECO began monitoring 18 sites in 1992 and has since expanded to 33 sites in Henderson County.
Volunteers collect water samples from each site monthly. The samples are sent to an independent lab to be evaluated for eleven chemical parameters: pH, conductivity, alkalinity, turbidity, total suspended solids, copper, zinc, lead, orthophosphate, ammonia nitrogen and nitrate nitrogen. This provides a valuable database of water quality information to monitor trends and the effects of changing land use on our waterways. VWIN data is analyzed to create an annual report on the water quality for Henderson County. The VWIN program has created an objective dataset covering nearly two decades, allowing ECO to identify streams facing degradation and obtain financial and political resources to protect streams in Henderson County. VWIN volunteers use this WQ Survey Sheet to collect visual data during sampling in the fall of each year.
Through the VWIN program ECO has identified waterways of pristine quality and detected highly degraded streams in Henderson County.
VWIN Success Stories
- ECO’s VWIN data showed the Mills River watershed to be degraded due to high inputs of sediment and nutrients. This led to the establishment of the Mills River Partnership in 1998. The Mills River partnership created a strategic plan for working with landowners to install projects reducing nonpoint source pollution. Thee plan was successful resulting in the restoration of a prime drinking water source in Western North Carolina, trout fishery and recreational area.
- ECO’s VWIN data contributed to the identification of water quality degradation throughout the Mud Creek Watershed due to rural and urban stressors. This led to the Mud Creek Restoration Project. The project is currently active, focusing on stream restoration, urban stormwater management, agricultural best management practices and education.
- The backlog of ECO’s VWIN data demonstrated sediment to be a primary and consistent water quality impairment in Henderson County. This provided strong justification for the approval of an Erosion and Sediment Ordinance in Henderson County.
To learn more about ECO’s monitoring results, please look at our interactive map, comprehensive VWIN data or Annual VWIN reports for Henderson County
VWIN Annual Reports:
If you are interested in becoming a VWIN volunteer, please contact ECO.