Citizen Science Stream Flow & Trash

Citizen science is a way for the community to help monitor our streams and rivers.

Stream Flow – Napa County’s climate regime of wet winters and dry summers causes many of our local steams to run dry in the summer. This natural cycle or pattern of flowing and non-flowing conditions in our waterways is an important function and critical to our native aquatic plants, animals and fish. Too much or too little water at the wrong place or at the wrong time can cause changes in stream ecology and diversity.

Trash – Trash is pollution and harms water quality and degrades stream habitat. It is important to keep litter out of our local waterways. Knowing where trash is accumulating and how it got there is crucial to solving the problem. Targeting community education on the environmental impacts of littering helps solve the problem.

Ten monitoring sites have been selected due to their importance within our watershed. At each stream site the focus is assessing two parameters: Stream Flow  and Trash.

Frequent monitoring of these select sites at regular intervals allows Citizen Science to know when certain stream reaches go dry and if there is a trash problem in the area. Click on the 'how to use the tool' tab above to add your observation to the map.

This tool is an online web form designed to help Citizen Scientist make simple observations while in the field using a mobile cellular device. The form requires internet access and location information in order to submit your observation. Depending on your cellular service provider not all sites will have internet access.

When at a site pay close attention to the direction you are facing, either upstream or downstream. The desired direction to make an observation and take a photo is looking upstream, with the water flowing towards you.

Click on the map below to explore and locate the different monitoring sites and then add your observation to the map.

Observation Guides


Contribute to the map! Upload your own photos and stream observation.

Observation Stations

Major Streams

County Boundary

Trash Observation Guide

Trash is a form of pollution that negatively affects our waterways. To help you choose the level of trash present refer to the images below.

Not Littered

Trash cannot be seen on the banks or in the water without searching for it; less than one piece of trash is seen for every 30 feet.

Slightly Littered

A few pieces of trash can be seen, but the majority of the area is free of trash. There is less than 10 pieces on the bank or in the water. 


Trash is spread throughout the majority of the area, with a few areas remaining clean. There are 10 or more pieces of trash within the vicinity.

Very Littered

Trash is seen throughout the area, large piles have accumulated. A serious lack of concern for the area is felt. 

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Stream Flow Observation Guide

The presence and timing of stream flow is an indicator as to the health of a stream. It is important to monitor stream flow conditions over the course of the year to determine when a stream goes dry, since the timing can be critical to local animal, plant and fish species. To help you choose the correct stream flow rate refer to the images below.


The creek bed is completely dry, there is no water.

Separated Pools

The water is not connected, it is isolated, separated by rocks or other streambed materials.

Flowing - Still

The water is not moving but is continuous, if a leaf were on the surface of the water it would not move downstream.

Flowing - Slow

Water is slowly moving. Small ripples can be seen on the surface.


Flowing - Fast

Water is moving quickly, white caps can be visible, but are not a requirement.

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Water Level Observation Guide

Water level indicates how much water there is in the stream channel. Water level varies over the course of the year, between winter and summer when the amount of water supply flowing to the creek channels changes. 


Water almost completely fills its channel or overflows its banks. Vegetation may be underwater.


Rocks that are usually underwater are now visible. Water is continuous.

Separated Pools

Water is separated by rocks or other bed material, the water is not connected.


The stream bed is completely dry, it has no water.

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