The cool clear waters of Flat Creek are valued by residents and visitors alike in Montreat. People of all ages find enjoyment in exploring and fishing in the creek, gain inspiration through its ever-changing sights and sounds, and learn and connect with the natural world by walking along its banks.


In 2020 new discoveries of the wonder of Flat Creek are being made by a group of “citizen scientists.” Montreat residents with an interest in the watersheds that drain through the town’s various neighborhoods are participating in monitoring aspects of the biology and chemistry in Flat Creek, having been trained by professionals in the aquatic sciences. Under the auspices of the Montreat Landcare Committee, two projects assessing overall water quality and bacteria levels started this spring.


One project is determining seasonal values for eight different characteristics of the water in Flat Creek. At five different locations along the stream, water samples are taken and then delivered to the Environmental Quality Institute in Black Mountain for analysis for parameters such as nutrients, turbidity and acidity.


The second project involves collecting water samples weekly at just one location, with analysis done for the level of fecal coliform bacteria that may be present by a laboratory operated by Mountain True in Asheville.


“Landcare and our community are fortunate to have partners at both the Environmental Quality Institute and at Mountain True who are lending their scientific expertise to our projects,” says the committee’s chair, Martha Campbell. “Also, having a member of the community who is a scientist, Dr. Bill Seaman, to conceive and organize the research is a key part of Landcare’s being able to focus on Flat Creek.”


Preliminary findings from both projects reveal that the waters of Flat Creek are quite healthy. These data will help stewardship of the overall watershed, such as in paying attention to management of stormwater runoff from heavy rain events and mitigating future damages such as those the community recently has seen to property and roads. Meanwhile, minimizing sediment in the waters will help maintain species such as the iconic Eastern brook trout, prized by naturalists and anglers alike.


See the new project page: Flat Creek Treasure.

Two Montreat citizen scientists, Jeff and son Oliver, practice filling water sample bottles at Flat Creek as part of a Landcare research project.