O’Hara couple among volunteers monitoring local streams
|How to help|
| Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer with the Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement should call Marilyn Kraitchman, director of services at The Vintage community center, at 412-361-5003.
Or, visit the program’s Web site .
O’HARA: Bob and JoAnn Stiffler do their part each month to keep Mother Nature healthy.
The O’Hara couple spend an afternoon each month collecting and recording data from local streams as part of a program to monitor streams and aquatic life in western Pennsylvania.
Known as the Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement (EASI), the project is run from The Vintage, a community center in Pittsburgh’s East End.
Marilyn Kraitchman, The Vintage’s director of services, said teams of volunteer monitors measure and record chemical and physical properties of assigned streams. Teams use pre-formatted test kits supplied by the program. Data is fed to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Teams have been sampling and reporting monthly. Additional testing for micro-vertebrates is performed twice per year.
‘This testing for the small creatures is the truest test of the life of a stream,’ said Bob Stiffler, a retired educator.
‘We’ve been measuring Little Deer and Deer Creek along Route 910 in an area involved with the Deer Creek Crossing development,’ Stiffler said.
They and friends Bill and Nancy Sayles plan to move to a new site that has not been covered in the program.
There are plenty of streams to cover, and Kraitchman continually searches for people like the Stifflers to participate in the year-round volunteer monitoring effort. It does not require a person to be retired. Although Bob Stiffler is retired, his wife continues to teach at Fox Chapel Country Day School.
‘More than 60 volunteers make up teams in Allegheny, Butler and Armstrong counties,’ Kraitchman said.
Kraitchman said the data is used by DEP in any unusual event. Chemical measurements are used as a baseline in the event of a spill or suspected pollution. Physical measurements of the stream banks and water depth can be used in the event of drought or flooding.
Roger Loughery of Squirrel Hill, a retired chemist and charter member, is responsible for training and program consistency.
‘I generally train one-on-one and, generally, one session is sufficient to teach the procedures,’ Loughery said.
Teams can enter their own data, or they can mail it to a program member who will enter it, he said.
Kraitchman is enlisting additional volunteers to maintain the sampling program at Little Deer Creek and Deer Creek.
As for his motivation, Stiffler said it is basic.
‘Clean water is important to us all,’ he said.