Western Environmental
Testing Laboratory
Snapshot Day 2017

Snapshot Day has become an annual WETLAB tradition.  We love getting out into nature and helping to inspire the next generation of scientists!  Jen Delany, one of our regular leaders for Snapshot Day, wrote the overview below. 

WETLAB Snapshot Day leaders Jen, Cory, and Vanessa.

WETLAB Snapshot Day leaders Jen, Cory, and Vanessa

On Friday May 12th 2017, WETLAB volunteered for Snapshot Day, which is coordinated by the Bureau of Water Quality Planning (NDEP). Snapshot Day occurs annually and is a one-day event where the Urban Truckee River portion of the watershed is sampled from the outlet at Lake Tahoe to its end at Pyramid Lake. That’s a total of 105 miles! Snapshot Day is an event that includes the community and education outreach; different businesses and organizations volunteer their time to teach students throughout the Washoe basin about conservation, environmental stewardship, and water quality.   In conjunction with NDEP, these small groups help create a larger picture to determine the health of our watershed over time and identify possible sources of pollution or other contamination. In addition, site facilitators conduct a stream walk for habitat assessment and sample collection for field and laboratory testing.

WETLAB’s sampling site along the Truckee River this year was Whites Creek on the Mountain View Montessori School campus. As facilitators, we had the opportunity to teach the 4th & 5th grade students about the importance of a healthy watershed, water quality, field testing methods, the water cycle and environmental sustainability. We had a unique opportunity this year to educate the students about the Atmospheric River and how the allocation of water is managed within our state. Students were engaged and incredibly helpful.

WETLAB staff enjoyed providing a hands-on learning experience to stimulate interest and stewardship. We hope to continue volunteering for this event year after year!

WETLAB has been participating in Snapshot Day for several years now.  We’re proud of our commitment to education, and we hope to inspire ecological stewardship in students of all ages, while also showcasing various career paths they might not have considered previously.  WETLAB directed three monitoring stations this year, meaning we were given the chance to inspire over one hundred students.  Below is a guest blog written by Mary Kay Wagner, the coordinator for Snapshot Day. 


Education on the River: Truckee River Snapshot Day

Mary Kay Wagner, Lower Truckee River Snapshot Day Coordinator

The ultimate learning experience occurs when students perform their own investigations and discovery.  That opportunity was provided for Washoe County School District students during the 15th Annual Truckee River Snapshot Day on May 15, 2015. Under the guidance of resource professionals, students take a picture of one-moment in time of the Truckee River by collecting water quality data and studying the riparian habitat.  They also learn about watershed concerns and stewardship practices.

For the lower Truckee River segment, nine schools sent 239 students ranging from 4th grade to high school to participate in the event. The student monitoring teams are pre-assigned to various monitoring sites to perform a stream walk (visual assessment), collect field data and water quality samples, and take photos. Streams are field tested for dissolved oxygen, conductivity, pH, and temperature. Water samples are taken to the Nevada State Health Lab and analyzed for turbidity, nutrients, and fecal coliform bacteria. Monitoring teams also collect debris and trash – things that don’t belong in the river.

One added value of Snapshot Day is the opportunity for students to learn and work alongside natural resource professionals, exposing the students to exciting careers and transferring ecological stewardship principles to a new batch of field recruits.

The success of this hands-on educational event is attributed to the dedicated Team Leaders from WETLAB, Great Basin Institute, Sierra Nevada Journeys, City of Sparks, City of Reno, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, Nevada Department of Transportation, The Nature Conservancy and Pyramid Lake Environmental staff, who helped students understand watershed concepts and hydrology, as well as the importance of environmental stewardship.  Participating schools included Mt. View Montessori, Natchez Elementary School, High Desert Montessori, Sage Ridge Middle School, Excel Christian School, Spanish Springs High School, Washoe Innovation High School, a home-school group and the Washoe County On-Line School.


A student collects a water sample from Hunter Creek during Snapshot Day 2015.

A student collects a water sample from Hunter Creek during Snapshot Day 2015.

Snapshot Day isn’t a WETLAB photo shoot. It’s an annual Lake Tahoe Basin and Truckee River Watershed citizen-monitoring event. Launched back in 2000, Snapshot Day is designed to promote environmental education and stewardship while also collecting valuable water quality information. Snapshot Day takes place at locations throughout the Lake Tahoe and Truckee River Watersheds.

During Snapshot Day, we work with students and other volunteers to field-test streams, collect discrete water samples for nutrient analysis, and educate participants on protecting and improving the watershed in their own backyard. The data collected helps provide a “snapshot” of water quality and stream conditions all throughout the region.

It’s truly a great opportunity to learn about your local watershed and get more involved in a great locally-driven environmental event. Snapshot Day is run by volunteers, but spearheaded by the Tahoe-Truckee Clean Water team and sponsored by local environmental and water-focused agencies, including WETLAB. Our participation as a sponsor and team dates back to 2009 and we’re proud to support the program and its commitment to protecting the watershed in our community.

2012 Snapshot Day – Getting a Complete Water Quality Picture of Reno/Tahoe

Reno Tahoe residents, want to roll up your sleeves and do something about water quality in our region? The 8th annual Water Quality Snapshot Day needs volunteers Saturday, May 10.

This is a cause near and dear to our hearts here at Western Environmental Testing Laboratory – WETLAB, and we’ve worked as team leaders since the beginning. But you don’t need to be a water quality expert – you just need to care about our regions rivers, lakes and streams.

The idea is to get volunteers from all around Lake Tahoe and along the Truckee River to Pyramid Lake to take water quality samples in order to create a holistic picture of our region’s water. The event not only provides valuable data to area researchers on a large scale, but it’s also a great excuse to get outside and enjoy our region’s beautiful waterways!

All you have to do is meet for a brief orientation at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 10. Reno area volunteers will meet at Bartley Ranch Regional Park, 6000 Bartley Ranch Road.

Truckee area volunteers will meet at the Sagehen Field Station, about 10 miles north of Truckee on Highway 89 North.

North Lake Tahoe volunteers will meet at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, and South Lake Tahoe volunteers will meet at the Lake Tahoe Community College cafeteria.

Volunteers will be lead by trained group leaders, fanning out across our watershed to various locations on a variety of streams and tributaries, testing for dissolved oxygen, conductivity, pH and temperature, also collecting water samples for laboratory analysis of nutrients, sediments and bacteria. All this data will give important insights into the health of our waterways. You’ll also learn interesting information about our watershed from your team leader.

To sign up as a volunteer, call Mary Kay Riedl at 775-687-9454 for Reno area, Beth Christman at 530-550-8760 for the Truckee area or Susie Kocher at 530-542-2571 for Lake Tahoe.

Map showing the Truckee River drainage basin.

Map showing the Truckee River drainage basin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Snapshot Day 2009 – May 16, 2009

For those of you are aren’t familiar with Snapshot Day, it is a citizen-based water quality monitoring event of the Lake Tahoe and Truckee River Watersheds. Citizen monitoring teams, led by water resource professionals, and composed of community volunteers and students, field-test streams throughout the watershed for dissolved oxygen (DO), conductivity (EC), pH, and temperature. The also collect discrete water samples that are then taken to a laboratory for the analysis of nutrients, sediments and bacteria. Teams will also conduct visual habitat assessments of the sites. Team leaders will help educate the volunteers and students by sharing interesting watershed facts and provide information about how you can improve and protect your watershed.

This is a great opportunity to learn about your local watershed and get more involved in a great locally driven environmental event. Also, the data collected on this day helps provide a “snapshot” of water quality and stream conditions all throughout the watershed.

For more information about Snapshot day, or if you would like to participate next year (either as a team leader or a volunteer), email Mary Kay Reidl at mriedl@ndep.nv.gov.

This year, our Client Services Representative, Brian Wadsworth, participated in Snapshot day!

You can also contact Brian at brianw@wetlaboratory.com for more information!