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Water Quality and Flow Monitoring on Oso Flaco and Orcutt Creeks

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The quality of water flowing through our creeks and into our estuaries is of crucial importance to wildlife and for human use. In the Santa Maria River watershed, there are few perennial creeks, and those creeks are characteristically human-modified, denuded of vegetation and fed by pollutant-laden agricultural runoff.

To better understand these creeks, the role they play in the ecosystem and how we can do better at protecting them, Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District (CSLRCD) has partnered with landowners, California State Parks and the Regional Water Quality Control Board to develop a monitoring program that improves our understanding of the flow and loading in Oso Flaco and Orcutt creeks, the two perennial creeks in the lower Santa Maria River watershed.

CSLRCD installed and maintains continuous acoustic-doppler flow meters and electrical conductivity meters in each of these creeks, and also collects manual flow measurements and samples for a suite of salt pollutants twice a month. The data from these instruments are analyzed statistically to determine the loading of each individual pollutant, which improves our understanding of how these pollutants flow through our landscapes.

Partners: State Parks, RWQCB

Funders: Private

RCD Contact: Joe Murphy,