New video features evolution of the AWW Program

A Living Downstream video was first produced over a decade ago in VHS format. Recently, the video was reformatted in digital form and updated to reflect the growth and evolution of the AWW Program over the past 18 years, since its inception in 1992.

View the video

Under the leadership of Dr. Bill Deutsch, AWW Program Director, thousands of Alabamians have been trained and certified in water quality monitoring, from the Tennessee Valley to the Gulf of Mexico. AWW-trained citizen volunteers monitor their local waters, educate communities on how to better utilize and preserve water resources, and actively take part in shaping water-management policy throughout Alabama.

GSAs Marlon Cook presents Unpaved Road Seminar

The SWaMP (Saugahatchee Watershed Management Plan) Project and  Alabama Water Watch were extremely pleased to have Marlon Cook, Director, Groundwater Assessment Program, Geological Survey of Alabama, present results from a six-year GSA study, ANALYSIS OF SEDIMENT LOADING RATES AND IMPACTS OF UPPAVED ROADS ON SELECTED TRIBUTARIES TO GANT AND POINT A LAKES, COVINGTON COUNTY ALABAMA 2002-2007. The presentation was at Upchurch Hall on the Auburn University campus on December 16th, 2009.

Seminar Announcement

Mr. Cook touched on erosion/sedimentation processes, and their affects on streams in Alabama. He showed results of the impressive study conducted by the GSA in Covington County, where GSA scientists measured sediment load in several streams before and after installation of BMPs (best management practices) on dirt roads that crossed the local streams.

PowerPoint Presentation

Video: Part 1,  Part 2


The BMPs included chip-seal (surfacing with tar and limestone) of the road surface from hilltop to hilltop on both sides of a bridge, armoring drainage ditches along the sides of the road with limestone rip-rap, installation of curb and gutters, planting of vegetative cover on road sides, and check-dam installation in roadside ditches. Mr. Cook emphasized that a relatively small amount of road improvement on unpaved roads can make a dramatic improvement in stream water quality (manifest as reduction of dirt being washed into the stream during rain events) if the improvements are targeted to areas of high erosion at stream crossings. Results of the GSA study indicated reductions from 46% to 99% in sediment loads in streams, depending on the BMP treatments installed. The seminar closed with a stimulating discussion about things that could be done on Lee County’s 187 miles of unpaved roads to reduce the amount of dirt flushed into our local streams and improve their water quality.

SWaMP is administered and coordinated by Alabama Water Watch and Auburn University Fisheries Department, and partially funded by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management through a Clean Water Act Section 319(h) nonpoint source grant provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-Region 4.

Special thanks to Mr. Marlon Cook for traveling to Auburn University and sharing his knowledge and experiences with us in an effort to restore and preserve Auburn’s natural resources!

Cary Woods School teams up with AWW for environmental stewardship

Alabama Water Watch (AWW) has been working with the Cary Woods Elementary School in environmental stewardship efforts for the past two years. Ms. Debbie Brooks, Principal of the Cary Woods School, applied for a grant under the Saugahatchee Watershed Management Plan, or SWaMP, an ADEM/EPA funded project directed by AWW that promotes environmental efforts to reduce nonpoint source pollution of surface waters. Ms. Brooks has worked closely with Eric Reutebuch and Wendy Seesock, co-coordinators of the SWaMP project. Dr. Bill Deutsch is the project director, and director of the Alabama Water Watch Program, based in Upchurch Hall at Auburn University. With the grant, Cary Woods School was able to implement several environmental projects, including: 1) installation of a rain garden to intercept polluted stormwater runoff from surrounding lawns and parking lots, 2) installation of two large tanks to harvest rainwater from the school’s roof for use in outdoor watering of the lawns, shrubs and school garden plots, 3) renovation of the school’s nature trail, which leads down to a local stream behind the school, where the students conduct water quality and stream bioassessment exercises (with the aid of AWW personnel and a local citizen volunteer monitoring group, Save Our Saugahatchee), and 4) training Cary Woods teachers in the Exploring Alabama’s Living Streams curriculum for use in their science classrooms.

A video was produced by Tiger TV (a mass media program at Auburn High School in which students operate a television station) for the Auburn Community Channel (channel 16) by Jason Miller. Jason, a student at Auburn High School, produced the video under the direction of Elizabeth Antoine,Language Arts Instructor in the Auburn High School English Department.

Click here to view the video (in 4 segments)

For more information on the Cary Woods project, Respect, Replace and Restore- the 3 R’s of Cary Woods Elementary outdoor environment project- Educating all to preserve our environment- a school and community effort!, go to, and for information on the Alabama Water Watch Program, go to


Isabella Water Watchers head to state fair

A team of young scientists at Isabella High School in Maplesville, AL, has been monitoring Mulberry Creek. The Isabella Water Watchers, as they call themselves, are collecting water data for use in the real world of science. On Friday, December 18th, the students will present their project at the state science fair in Birmingham as part of the Alabama Department of Education’s Girls Engaged in Math & Science (GEMS) program.

Click here to read the complete story in the Clanton Advertiser

AU and Appalachian State researchers find urban development linked to freshwater mussel decline

Influence of urban tributaries on freshwater mussel populations in a biologically diverse piedmont (USA) stream

Michael M. Gangloff1 , Lynn Siefferman1, Wendy Seesock2 and E. Cliff Webber2

(1)  Department of Biology, Appalachian State University, 572 Rivers Street, P.O. Box 32027, Boone, NC 28608-2027, USA
(2)  Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures, Auburn University, Swingle Hall, Auburn, AL 36849, USA


The Southeastern USA is currently experiencing a period of rapid growth of human populations that is likely having profound effects on the region’s unique aquatic biota. Using both survey data and experimental protocols, we assessed the influences of water and habitat quality on freshwater mussel populations in a small Piedmont stream. Chewacla Creek is a high-quality stream located near the rapidly growing towns of Auburn and Opelika in east-central Alabama. From 1999 to 2007 we monitored freshwater mussel populations and measured substrate and water chemistry variables in Chewacla Creek. Surveys revealed that mussel abundance decreased substantially concomitant with degraded habitat and water quality downstream of three highly urbanized tributaries. We conducted sentinel trials using adult mussels (Villosa lienosa) in Chewacla Creek and a tributary (Parkerson Mill Creek) that receives wastewater discharge. Sentinel mussels were placed in cages at three locations downstream of the effluent discharge point and at one upstream site (control). Sentinel mussels exposed to wastewater discharge exhibited lower survival rates compared to control animals. Together, survey and experimental data suggest that degraded tributary sub-catchments may fragment mussel populations in high-quality streams. Moreover, our data indicate that protection of sensitive aquatic taxa necessitates effective management of water quality across large spatial scales.

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