Snapshot Day

Snapshot Day is a citizen volunteer stream monitoring event for the Lake Tahoe Basin, the Truckee River, and the Carson River watersheds in Nevada and California. It is a volunteer-based annual event that takes a picture of 1-moment in time of your watershed. Citizen volunteers and assigned local school classes learn about their watershed, water quality issues, how streams function, and how to assess stream health.

Each year, Nevada's Nonpoint Source (NPS) Pollution Management Program works in partnership with other public agencies, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations to provide citizens and students a unique opportunity to learn about local water quality issues related to nonpoint source pollution, water quality protection, and to participate in watershed research. These events provide hands-on education to the public; and an opportunity to job shadow and interact with water resource professionals.

Snapshot Day provides a “snapshot” of water quality within a watershed. The purpose of a watershed “Snapshot Day” is two-fold:

  1. to collect valuable water quality data over time, and
  2. to promote environmental education through volunteerism and stewardship.

Snapshot Day data collection helps supplement existing monitoring programs and contribute to a more complete picture of watershed conditions. Monitoring teams have helped to identify and alert agencies to several "hot-spot" areas with water quality concerns.

When is Snapshot Day? For the Tahoe Basin and Truckee River watersheds, Snapshot Day takes place in May or early June each year, and captures spring runoff conditions. For the Carson River watershed, Snapshot Day takes places in mid-October, after agricultural irrigation ends for the season. Volunteer monitoring teams are assigned to monitoring sites to conduct a habitat assessment (an overview of physical conditions affecting stream organisms), collect “grab” (water) samples, take photos, and gather field data. Monitored field parameters include: pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, temperature, and Secchi depth (in lakes). Monitoring materials and water samples are returned to a staging area. The collected water samples are sent to the lab for further analysis for turbidity, nutrients and coliform bacteria.

Volunteer Information

  • Groups meet by 9:00 a.m. to collect data at various locations within the watershed. Monitoring activities are usually completed by noon.
  • Students are assigned to a sampling site near to their school
  • Team Leaders attend 1 training session prior to event.
  • All necessary equipment is provided.

Get Involved, contact: Mary Kay Wagner mkwagner [at] ndep.nv.gov (775) 687-9454

Additional information

Snapshot Day Step-by-Step Instructions

Assumption of Risk Form

Team Leader Handbook

Newsletter Signup: Water Pollution

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