Alabama Water Watch

Justification

An increasing number of Alabama citizens are interested in protecting or restoring the streams and lakes they live near. They volunteer thousands of hours per year in locally led, water quality assessments to improve environmental quality and policy. Alabama Water Watch, a science-based program of citizen monitoring, provides large amounts of cost-effective and credible water quality data that would not otherwise be available to resource managers.

Student volunteers monitor water quality with test kits.

 

Objectives
To foster the development of community-based water quality monitoring by: Providing training materials and workshops in several levels of water
testing; Maintaining a statewide database and EPA-approved quality assurance protocols; Disseminating citizen data and other water quality information to monitors, environmental managers, regulators, educators, and the general public.

 

Research

Water quality data are currently being collected by hundreds of certified monitors in 70 citizen groups statewide. Variables include six physico-chemical parameters, E. coli and other coliform bacteria, and stream bioassessments using macroinvertebrates. This information is stored, summarized, and disseminated through a statewide database. Citizen data are compared with university and agency research data to document their validity.

 

Students sampling aquatic organisms to gauge the level of stream pollution.

Anticipated Impacts

Since the Alabama Water Watch (AWW) program began in 1992, more than 4,000 citizens have become certified water monitors. They have cumulatively tested 1,800 sites on 700 water bodies in Alabama and shared watersheds of neighboring states. Citizen data have been used in identifying and correcting pollution problems, and educating the public about water issues. AWW monitors actively participate in Clean Water Partnerships statewide. State and federal regulatory agencies and environmental organizations have recognized AWW for making a significant impact on water quality and policy. The AWW program has been a model for Global Water Watch, a network of community-based water monitoring programs in several countries.

 

Principal Investigators

William Deutsch
Program Manager
Auburn University, Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures
deutswg@auburn.edu

Sergio Ruiz and Eric Reutebuch
Data Quality Co-Coordinators

Rita Grub, Monitor Coordinator
www.alabamawaterwatch.org

 

Affiliated Departments or Institutions

Alabama Department of Environmental Management

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Region 4)

Alabama Cooperative Extension System

203 Swingle Hall | Auburn, Alabama 36849 | (334) 844-4786 |
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