The physical characteristics of a stream can give clues to the health of the stream. Healthy streams have lush riparian buffers, clear water and plenty of wildlife.
A stream walk is often a good way to become acquainted with your watershed. Choose a section of stream and walk alongside of it for a distance. This will allow you to become familiar with the variety of vegetation and wildlife that can be found in your watershed. Be sure to make notes of what you see and mark anything of interest.
AMD pollution is often visible in the form of "yellow boys". This is a yellowish-orange film that coats the rocks and twigs on the bottoms and sides of the waterway. In some AMD treatment options this precipitate, iron oxide, can be harvested for use. Iron oxide is one of the most common compounds used to make red dyes.
High acid levels, usually resulting from AMD, may also cause aluminum or other heavy metals to dissolve in the water. High aluminum levels eventually lead to the metal precipitating out of the water onto the bottom of the stream creating a whitish film.