Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman

How do you understand stream quality?

Stream Reach Data CCP Newsletter

Screenshot from the Stream Reach Assessment Tool (SRAT) that will help over 50 conservation organizations target restoration and land protection for water quality.  


March 2016 — Upstream land-use decisions—where we build houses, the type of fertilizers we use on farms, and which effluents are released into wastewater—determine the quality of our downstream waters even hundreds of miles away. For a small headwaters stream, as little as a few thousand acres of land may determine what finds its way into that stream; for a larger tributary, as many as 2 million acres may affect the river’s chemical and biological traits.

As part of the Delaware River Watershed Initiative’s (DRWI) focus on protecting and improving the Basin’s water resources, the Open Space Institute is collaborating in the development of an innovative map-based tool for understanding how upstream land uses affect water quality for each of 15,000 stream segments known as stream reaches. The project harnesses OSI’s experience building water resource evaluations to guide land protection and the expertise of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, consultant Barry Evans, Ph.D. , a Fellow at the Stroud Water Resource Center, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The tool, known as the Stream Reach Assessment Tool (SRAT), will help over 50 conservation organizations target restoration and land protection for water quality. In particular, it is intended to assist DRWI grantee organizations in eight designated Delaware Watershed “clusters” in updating conservation strategies for collaborative grant applications to the William Penn Foundation. The tool will be accessible through an online, interactive website, and underlying data will be available for use with ArcGIS desktop software.

The tool offers land trusts and their partners an unprecedented scale of detail for understanding stream quality. By visualizing how pollutant loads are distributed for each stream reachsee interactive slide show, it will allow users to estimate the number of acres of restoration or protection needed to improve or maintain specific water-quality targets.  

The SRAT stream-quality tool is slated to debut in July 2016.  To learn more about the scientific and technical background and view answers to frequently asked questions about its use, click here.

For further information, contact:

Scott Haag, Drexel,

Abigail Weinberg, OSI,





All active news articles

What You Can Do

Donate to support OSI’s work

Become a part of our mission to safeguard at-risk places through your tax-deductible gift.


Subscribe to our newsletter

We get in touch once a month with our most important news, stories, and updates.

Please leave this field empty