Fish & Water
In January 2020, Alabama Water Watch (AWW), in partnership with the USDA Forest Service (USFS), officially launched a new water quality monitoring project in the national forests in Alabama, funded by the USFS Citizen Science Competitive Funding Program (CitSci Fund). Established in 2017, the CitSci Fund supports innovative projects that address science and resource management information needs while connecting people to the land and one another.
The goal of the AWW program is to encourage citizens to discover the national forests in Alabama by testing their waters. Citizen volunteers are trained to collect water chemistry and bacteriological monitoring data on select stream locations within the national forests. Ultimately, the USFS will use this water data to make watershed management decisions in the forests.
In 2020, AWW held three, two-day water quality monitoring workshops for the Tuskegee, Bankhead, and Conecuh national forests, training a total of 70 people. These workshops covered information related to the water environment, forests and watershed health, pollution, and water quality standards. During day two of each workshop, participants conducted monitoring practices on the respective national forest.
Volunteer monitors have collected a total of approximately 250 water chemistry and bacteriological data records since the project began. The first year of the project yielded 1,049 volunteer hours, valued at $28,533.
“I want to share with anyone who’s interested in doing this kind of work that it really is its own reward to be out there. It’s nice to feel like you’re doing something that contributes to a greater cause. I’ve not yet monitored for a year, but I do really look forward to developing a deeper relationship with these areas and these spots that I’ve been assigned, and observing the cycles and changes. I’m grateful to be part of this organization that facilitates this good work.” – Tuskegee National Forest monitor volunteer
Expansion to Talladega National Forest
In 2021, the CitSci Fund selected the AWW Project for additional funding that is providing continued support to existing project monitors and allowing expansion into the Talladega National Forest. People can now register for the opportunity to become a water monitor for the Talladega National Forest. There are three easy steps to becoming a water monitor.
- Attend the kickoff Zoom call September 16.
- Complete the self-paced, online courses for AWW bacteriological and water chemistry monitoring.
- Attend the field day at Cheaha State Park October 1.
AWW hopes that this will be one of many projects to come that incorporate Alabama public lands with AWW’s water monitoring program.
For those interested in following the progress of this project or getting involved with AWW, contact the Alabama Water Watch office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-844-4785. For more information on Alabama Water Watch visit www.alabamawaterwatch.org. Like and follow Alabama Water Watch on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Alabama Water Watch (AWW) is a statewide citizen volunteer water quality monitoring program. AWW is part of the Auburn University Water Resources Center and is supported by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, and external funding.