MeOWW (Meet Our Water Watchers) – Francine Hutchinson, AWW trainer extraordinaire!

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Francine Hutchinson is a retired, Nationally Board Certified Biology Teacher.  She has taught at various schools in the Cleburne County, Jacksonville City, and Oxford City School Systems, and also as an Adjunct Instructor at Jacksonville State University and Gadsden State Community College.  She received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Jacksonville State University.    A long-time environmental educator, she has taught classes for JSU Field Schools since its inception in 1991.  She currently works part-time as Assistant Curator of the Jacksonville State University Herbarium.  She has worked as a volunteer environmental activist for many years as a Trainer for Alabama Water Watch.

Francine training a group of energetic young adults at an AWW Water Chemistry Workshop at JSU

Francine training a group of energetic young adults at an AWW Water Chemistry Workshop at Jacksonville State University

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For the love of the darter

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We hope that you enjoy the following article that one of our faithful AWW water monitors sent to us last week. Marty Schulman, water monitor extraordinaire, has been employing his monitoring talents in the protection of one of the most endangered fish species in Alabama, and for that matter, in the United States! Marty was the recipient of the coveted 2015 Alabama Rivers Alliance James Lowery Service Award (an expansion of the ARA Volunteer of the Year Award) for his service as an Alabama Water Watch monitor on behalf of US Fish and Wildlife Service at three of the five known habitats of the endangered watercress darter that exist worldwide.

The beloved watercress darter is indigenous to Alabama, and is now limited to a few springs and spring runs (four natural areas, and one where the darter was introduced) in the Birmingham area. Though small in size (measuring to about 2.5 inches in maximum length), this darter rivals tropical reef fish in beauty and coloration (see picture below).

male watercress darter fish

Male watercress darter trying to impress his girlfriend. Credit: USFWS (source: http://www.fws.gov/southeast/news/2010/r10-045.html)

After being trained and certified as an AWW monitor, Marty has been faithfully monitoring water quality at darter habitats in the Birmingham area since 2008. He and fellow members of the Watercress Darter Monitoring Program water monitoring group, have conducted 255 water sampling events and submitted their data to AWW’s online database. Some of the data records from Roebuck Springs, one of the remaining habitats of the watercress darter, are shown below. Continue reading

AWW Database Transition

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On April 1st, 2015 the 15-yr old FrontPage server that hosts the AWW Online Database will be turned off forever. But don’t despair – our database gurus, Jim Johnson and Sergio (below), have worked countless long hours and late nights over the past 12 months to update and transfer the AWW database to a newer-faster-better server!

AWW database gurus, Jim Johnson, working into the wee hours

AWW database gurus, Jim Johnson and Sergio, working into the wee hours

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There’s an app for that!

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With the assistance of AWW volunteer monitors from Lake Watch of Lake Martin and Logan Martin Lake Protection Association, AWW completed a bacteriological study of public swim beaches on the two lakes last fall. Along with information about the levels of bacteria found in the water and in the sand/sediment below the water, the Lake Watch folks worked closely with the good folks at Wind Creek State Park and established the first Swim Guide site on Lake Martin. Continue reading