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Aerial view of water and trees

The Alabama Watershed Stewards Handbook: A Water Resource Training Curriculum was written for participants in the Alabama Watershed Steward program. In this handbook you will learn everything from the basics of watersheds and how they work to how human activity influences water quality and why it matters to how to become a community leader in water quality. This handbook will give you the background, principles, and tools you need to become an Alabama watershed steward. It is designed to be an educational resource and training guide for watershed stewards throughout the state.

The following information will be covered in this handbook:

  • Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the program and an overview of the importance of watershed stewardship.
  • Chapter 2 topics include what watersheds are, how they work, and the role they play in day-to-day human activities in Alabama.
  • Chapter 3 topics include water quality parameters and watershed impairments, how watersheds can become polluted, pollutant impacts on waterways, and how land use impacts water quality. You will learn about Alabama’s specific water quality standards and laws, how Alabama monitors water bodies, and how you can report issues related to your watershed.
  • Chapter 4 topics involve how to use a watershed approach to improve the quality of water in your area. You will learn about best management practices that you and others can implement to reduce the amount of pollutants in the watershed.
  • Chapter 5 topics involve the role community leadership plays in sustainable watershed management. You will learn how to get involved and how community groups work to improve water quality.
  • Handbook Appendices include a number of valuable resources about water quality organizations and agencies, resources for specific water quality topics and community activities.
  • Glossary is an A to Z reference for terms, acronyms, and initialisms found in the AWS Handbook.

Program Partners

This educational training was developed by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System in partnership with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other agencies including Alabama Water Watch with the Auburn Water Resources Center. This project was fully 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.


Alabama Watershed Stewards Handbook partner logos


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University) is an equal opportunity educator, employer, and provider. If you need a reasonable accommodation or language access services, contact ACES Human Resources at aceshr@aces.edu or (334) 844-5531.

The information in this handbook is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products and/or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System or its partners is implied.

Eve Brantley, Extension Specialist, Professor, Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences; Nikki Dictson, Watershed Program Coordinator; Laura Bell, Watershed Program Coordinator; Andrew Graham, Student Worker; Alex James, Watershed Program Coordinator; Rachel Kuntz, Watershed Program Coordinator; all with Alabama Extension Water Program at Auburn University

Reviewed August 2023, Alabama Watershed Stewards Handbook, ANR-2529