A city employee in Rocky Branch Creek collecting water samples

How Raleigh Stormwater Monitors Streams

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Water Samples Aquatic Insect Samples How We Monitor Streams

Raleigh Stormwater staff regularly monitor the quality of streams in Raleigh. The data we collect informs us about stream health and allows us to watch changes in streams over time.

Water Samples

Stormwater staff collecting water samples in a stream using a bottle

Staff using a bottle to collect a water sample in a stream. 

We collect samples at 18 locations every three months. Each location is a major tributary or stream that flows to the Neuse River.

We use water quality meters to read chemical data and take water samples. An independent lab analyzes the samples. This information helps gauge stream health. It is also a requirement of our stormwater permit.

See where we're monitoring | You can help us monitor streams!

What We Measure What's Analyzed at the Lab
  • Water temperature
  • Conductivity
  • Salinity
  • pH
  • Dissolved oxygen
  • Total suspended solids
  • Nitrogen and phosphorus
  • Turbidity 
  • Total hardness
  • E. coli 
  • Metals (calcium, copper, magnesium, zinc)

Aquatic Insect Samples

Stormwater staff in a stream collecting bug samples with a net

Staff using a kick net to collect insect samples.

Benthic macroinvertebrates are aquatic insects that live in streams. They include aquatic worms, snails, clams, and crayfish. 

Samples are taken at 22 stream locations once a year. We use kick nets and D-nets to collect and study the insects.

Water Quality Indicators

These insects are a good indicator of water quality since they typically live in a stream for 1-3 years. 

Good to Excellent: Large, diverse population sensitive to pollution

Fair to Poor: Smaller, less diverse population more tolerant to pollution

Did You Know?

They are large enough to see without a microscope. The meaning for benthic macroinvertebrates also comes from:

  • Benthic = bottom of a waterbody
  • Macro = large
  • Invertebrate = animal without a backbone

How We Monitor Streams

Tracking Stream Health in Raleigh

Staff checks on 18 stream locations throughout the year. See what they look for at each visit. 



Joyce Gaffney
Environmental & Sustainability Specialist 


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Engineering Services
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