The Ingham Conservation Stream Team - A Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program

The Ingham Conservation Stream Team is a trained group of volunteers that monitor water quality by collecting and identifying benthic macroinvertebrates or “bugs” from different sites across the watersheds of Ingham County. There is a spring and fall collection during which volunteers work in teams to collect bugs from different sites within the Upper Grand, Red Cedar and Middle Grand River Watersheds.


So what is a watershed?

Watershed Diagram

A watershed is any area of land where all the water drains to a common water body. Everyone lives in a watershed.  Sustainable land use and establishing Best Management Practices, particularly on land adjacent to waterways, is key to healthier and more enjoyable rivers, lakes and streams.

Stream Team Volunteering


Volunteers either wade in the water and collect macroinvertebrates, “bugs”, or stay on dry land and help sort through what we find. Each Collection Day is followed by a Bug Identification Night. Staff and volunteers use microscopes and reference materials to identify the macroinvertebrates found on Collection Day. The type and diversity of invertebrates found at each site provides insight into the health of the waterway at that location and can be used to identify environmental trends and target conservation efforts. This data greatly supplements the data collected by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.


View the Fall 2017 Stream Monitoring Update to see the results of our 2015-2017 monitoring events.


Thank you to all our Stream Team volunteers who have helped us collect this watershed data and thank you to the staff and students of the MSU Entomology Department for providing laboratory space and sharing their expertise in identification!


Mark your calendars for our Spring Stream Team Collection Event!

May 5th, 2018


Join us for a chance to be outdoors, learn more about your local ecosystem and help make a difference. Volunteers do not need to be experienced in water quality or macroinvertebrate identification. All training and equipment is provided. Kids 12 and older are welcome to participate if accompanied by an adult.  This program is supported in part by the MSU Department of Entomology.


One of the goals of the Ingham Conservation District is to protect, improve and promote the health of our local waterways.  The ICD is currently invested in several programs and projects that address watershed quality.  Be sure to visit our Events page to find out how you can get involved in supporting the health of your local watershed.

Red Cedar River Watershed

The Red Cedar River Watershed is 461 square miles, originating in Livingston County and extending west to cover most of Ingham County and portions of Clinton, Shiawassee and Eaton County.  The watershed includes a variety of land uses including agriculture,residential development, commerical and industrial development as well as natural landscapes of wetands and forest.  The MSU Institute of Water Research recently drafted a Red Cedar River Management Plan to assess the health of the watershed and plan for long term resource mangagement to address both known and potential issues that face this watershed. The Watershed Management Plan has been supported and approved by the MDEQ and funds are being sought to implement projects and educational efforts that will help address issues facing the watershed such as bacterial pollution and low oxygen levels.

Middle Grand River Watershed

The Middle Grand River watershed encompasses approximately 258 square miles across Eaton, Ingham, Clinton and Ionia Counties.   With the support of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), the Eaton Conservation District has developed a Watershed Management Plan for the watershed to assess the state of the watershed and develop long term strategies to address known and potential issues facing the watershed.

Learn more about how other local organizations are addressing watershed health:

Michigan State University Institute of Water Research – The Institute of Water Research (IWR) at MSU provides timely information for addressing contemporary land and water resource issues through coordinated multidisciplinary efforts using advanced information and networking systems. Activities include coordinating education and training programs on surface and ground water protection, land use and watershed management, and many others. The MSU IWR has developed an approved Watershed Management Plan for the Red Cedar River Watershed.
Tri-County Regional Planning Commisssion – The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission (TCRPC) is a voluntary organization of local governments and agencies organized to foster a cooperative effort in resolving problems, policies and plans that are common and regional with the greatest benefit to citizens of the Tri-County area while maximizing the efficient use of its resources.  Environmental services of the TCRPC include stormwater management, groundwater management and educational outreach.
Upper Grand River Watershed Alliance – The Upper Grand River Watershed Alliance is a coalition of municipalities, agencies, businesses and individuals in the headwaters region of the Grand River, Michigan’s longest river, working together to protect and restore the river, its lakes, streams, and wetlands.
Grand River Environmental Action Team (GREAT) – The Grand River Environmental Action Team is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of and restoration of the Upper Grand River Watershed.  GREAT organizes clean-up activites and monthly public canoe outings to create environmental awareness.
Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council (Mid-MEAC) – Mid-MEAC focuses on environmental issues in Clinton, Eaton and Ingham Counties. From river cleanup projects to monthly land use lunches, Mid-MEAC is committed to helping translate environmental concerns into action by providing education, advocacy and volunteer opportunities.

Small contributions do have big impacts!

Please check out our brochures on bacteria reduction and see how we all can help improve watershed health.