A Message From the Director

Dear AWW Family,

It is with a heavy heart that I write to you, but a heart filled with gratitude and purpose. As of October 1, I retired from Auburn University after 29 years of service. After hobbling around for a couple of months this past spring, I was diagnosed with ALS last July, which precipitated my retirement.

Recently, I recalled a coworker suggesting that, along with all of the fine watershed stewardship activities that we do, we should also take time to get out and enjoy the precious waters that flow through our state – that is my next major goal.

Eric and his wife, Maria, enjoying a float on the Paint Rock River.

Working with volunteer water watchers over the past two decades has really not been ‘work’ at all. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with some of the finest folks on the planet. It has constantly amazed me how these folks give selflessly of their time, talent and treasure in efforts to leave this beautiful planet in a little better shape than how they found it. Being able to work alongside such individuals in stewarding over Alabama’s waters through the AWW Program has been an absolute pleasure.

Most AWW volunteers will tell you that, as water monitors, they feel empowered and gain a sense of ownership of their data, and the waters that they monitor. They become committed to monitoring their local streams, rivers, lakes and coastal waters, and many become actively involved in the stewardship and management of these precious waters. It is truly fulfilling to be a part of this effort!

Eric with volunteers, staff, and friends to celebrate 25 years of AWW in May 2017.

In moving on to the next phase of my life, I take great comfort in knowing that the AWW Program is on firm ground and in good hands. AWW continues to flourish in the AU Water Resources Center, under the able and supportive leadership of Dr. Puneet Srivastava, as it did under his predecessor, Dr. Sam Fowler. And one would be hard-pressed to find a more caring, committed and hard-working staff – Sergio, Mona, Sydney, Billy, and Carolina. I know that they won’t miss a beat in stewarding over the AWW Program and the bountiful waters of our state.

As I transition to focusing on post-retirement life, I would like to express my thanks to Dr. Deutsch for establishing a program that has educated and engaged thousands, from the Mobile Bay to the Tennessee River Valley, and truly made Alabama even more Beautiful! And as I go out to my dock to monitor this month, I will be thinking about all those that I’ve been privileged to call my AWW sisters and brothers that have been with me on my AWW journey through the years.

Eric teaching a group of younger Alabamians about water quality.

This is not a goodbye.  I feel that our paths will cross again somewhere down the road. Please keep me and Maria in your thoughts and prayers as we make full use of our time together, and as we face the challenges that ALS may bring. My best wishes to all of the AWW Family as we continue our efforts to steward over our treasured waters.

With deep affection and gratitude,


38 Replies to “A Message From the Director”

  1. Mark and I have you and Maria in our thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your strong leadership and all you do for Alabama and its waterways! Come visit our guest house soon!

    Maggie and Mark

  2. Eric, may you enjoy all the wonders of “retired on Lake Martin” . Those of us who are blessed to live on this beautiful Treasured Lake are in debt to folks like you, the Bronsons and Bill Deutsch for all your efforts to keep this lake pristine for future lake dwellers. We pray that you and Maria will have many years to enjoy all you have helped to preserve. You are both a blessing to the “water spirit” . You are in our prayers, David and Diana French

  3. Eric
    As I read through all these comments from so many people I am accutely aware of how many lives you have touched, not only in AWW but in Fisheries as well, in Bayne’s lab. You are so giving in sharing your knowledge and experience and I don’t recall you ever saying “no” when asked for help. That help would be in helping a friend move heavy furniture or enxplaining how to run the varied chemical analyses you know so well! You are so giving and your patience is immense! I am so very grateful for being able to work with you in the field, in the lab and in AWW workshops all those years! I think that you can basically do anything, from building structures to correctly placing current meters in small streams, to analyzing mountains of data! You are amazing! Praying for you and Maria and excited you are getting to enjoy the many treasures in this state and our incredible country!

  4. Eric, thank you for all you have done for Alabama’s waterways. I miss sharing a lab with you and your crew, and I am going to miss your friendly face when I come to visit the AWW office. You were always one of my favorite people (anywhere) to see and talk to.

  5. Eric,

    My years working (and playing) with you and the other AWW/AW-WRC staff were the most enjoyable of my career. I wish the very best for you and Maria, and hope that our paths cross again. Please do not hesitate to let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you. Take care, and enjoy life.

  6. I am sad to hear this, but glad that you are freeing up your time to make the most of life. Hope that you and Maria are out enjoying the lovely fall weather today.
    Thank you for your service as an enthusiastic ambassador of the AWW mission for so many years, Eric! Your dedicated efforts to such an important cause are deeply appreciated.

  7. Eric, I am so sorry to hear this. Please know how much you mean to us here at SLEPC for the many times you have come to speak and train and share your wisdom with us. You are such a kind and giving soul and your passion for protecting our water is contagious. Thank you for all you have done, and best wishes for a happy retirement.

    Stephen Morros
    VP, Smith Lake Environmental Preservation Committee

  8. Eric,
    I am saddened to hear of your health struggles, but Elijah and I are sending lots of love your way. God bless you and your family! Big hugs,

    Leslie and Elijah Grill

  9. You are an inspiration to us all! Our thoughts and prayers are with you, your wife, and family and friends!! God bless you!!!

  10. Eric,

    You have set an example of how to lead and inspire people to care deeply about water and the world around them. I will miss seeing your smiling face at meetings, but I’m glad that you will be out enjoying the waters of Alabama. Let me know when you need some furniture moved and I’ll bring Hank and Chloe over. Love to you and Maria and your family. You are an Outstanding Alabama WaterWatcher (and should be a national treasure). Love, Eve

  11. Get out on the water and enjoy the work you have done. It is much appreciated. Let me know if you need someone to paddle alongside or behind.

  12. Eric,
    Thanks for your efforts on behalf of clean water. You have a great challenge ahead, and I will be praying. You are right to get out and enjoy our resources. Let me know if you need me to paddle alongside or in back; I have a kayak and a two-person Grumman.

  13. Thank you so much for blessing my life & my students’ lives over the years. They always looked forward to the ‘Bacteria Blitz’ & you always made it so enjoyable with your big, warm heart. I know you planted seeds & ignited their curiosity to hopefully be future scientists. Enjoy your retirement !

    Peace & blessings,
    Laurie Barrett
    Gifted Teacher
    Radney Elementary

  14. Eric:
    Thank you for all you have done for Alabama Water Watch, all the people you have touched and all the streams that are better because of you.
    Zack Sprayberry

  15. Eric
    Thank you for your service to Auburn, to Alabama and to humanity and for the wise and caring leadership of the AWW Program. You have touched the lives of many and your spirit and your caring will go forward with them.

    If you are able I would be pleased to get out on the Choctawhatchee with you and Maria one day this fall. You and Maria will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  16. Eric, you will be missed very much. Always a smile when I see you. But, while you are out having so much fun, why not write your stories with pictures of course for all to share. I will be one that will enjoy that immensely since it will be a couple of years before Bobby and I can go out on trips. As always out home is open to the two of you to visit.

  17. Eric, It has been great to be associated with you and AWW over the years. It is leadership and dedication that has made the AWW organization what it is today. You as an individual truly represent that leadership. I wish you the best and my thoughts and prayers will be with you.

  18. Hi, Eric! Your leadership in kicking off our Cahaba Connections conference is a tribute to the strong direction you set for all of us in our watershed. Personally, Cahaba Riverkeeper is grateful for your patience and assistance as we entered our first Swim Guide data in the AWW database. We will also be sad to see you less often. Stand strong, dear friend. Myra and Dave

  19. My association with AWW was brief unfortunately , but I was inspired by your dedication to this outstanding organization. We on Lake Martin appreciate your every effort in our little piece of heaven. You and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers – – our family has walked the ALS story too.

  20. Eric,
    What a great time we had since the mid-1980s, working together in Bayne’s lab and then many years together in AWW. You were a vital part of the AWW team and I couldn’t have been happier to see you direct the program after I retired. Now, we both can encourage and help Mona as she has stepped up to accept the mantle. We all hope and pray you have many fine years of a well-deserved retirement, and that we continue to interact and support each other. Enjoy the beauty and inspiration of Lake Martin every day you wake up and look out your window!

  21. Eric, I enjoyed working with you at Camp Cosby and know that you are so intelligent and love your work. You will be greatly missed but hope you have a wonderful retirement. You and Maria can throw away your alarm clocks now! Wishing you the very best for your future.

  22. Hard to say something my friend. After my first trip to Auburn I started a double life. I loved Alabama, I loved Auburn, I made so many friends ! I couldn’t decide whether to live in Auburn or in the pampas, far down in the continent, so I decided not to decide. Since 2007 I split my life living in Argentina but traveling twice a year to Auburn and this has been going on for a decade already. Many things brought me back in my journey through life to my sweet home Alabama, the landscapes, the woods, the rivers, lakes and thousands of marvelous creeks , AU, my work with GWW, AWW of course, my tango students, etc. Hard to pick one and say I came back for this or that particular thing, however I can say with no doubt that people like you have been the honey, the bells calling for me to return as the mermaids who mesmerized Ulises. You are among these people that iI NEED TO SEE each time my swalow journey leads me to Auburn. Thanks for alowing me to express my feelings for you and share it. Hope to see you soon wherever. Your the UV neck friend, Omar R

  23. So sorry to see this news. Eric, may you and Maria have many happy adventures on the water.

  24. Eric, you have been a true friend at AWW…and as a neighbor. You leave an incredible legacy at AWW and, of course, you will be missed.
    Mary Ann and I wish you and Maria only the best.
    Come see us in our new digs in Montgomery.
    Dick & Mary Ann Bronson

  25. Eric – So glad to hear that you will go and check out these beautiful rivers running through our state! You can feel good knowing that you helped inspire much of the water quality testing in our state, allowing others to enjoy these waters as well. Yes, the legacy you and Dr. Deutsch leave will be remembered. Sending much love to you and Maria and know that you are in our hearts as you both work through this transition.
    Martha Hunter
    Alabama Rivers Alliance and Friends of the Locust Fork River.

  26. Eric,

    You will be sorely missed by all of the volunteers. I finally publicly pronounced your last name correctly and what do you do you leave. You will be missed my friend and hope you will enjoy your retirement. I will be thinking of you in my thoughts and prayers.

    Mike Riley

  27. Eric, to paraphrase the Sarah Lee jingle, “nobody doesn’t like Eric Reutebuch.” Reversing the double negative, “Everybody loves Eric Reutebuch!” A true statement. How many people can that be said about? You have always sown, and continue to sow, the seeds of environmental stewardship and empowerment in others, leading by example and teaching, as well as the seeds of kindness, generosity of spirit, humor, and good will. Many, many of those seeds have rooted, grown, and are bearing fruit and will continue to do so for generations.
    Thank you for your message. You are surrounded by love and appreciation.

  28. Eric: Keep on truckin’ my friend! Your warm smile and always can-do attitude have encouraged many Alabamians to take that extra step toward protecting their local waterway. Cheers to all your tireless work for Alabama’s rivers and streams. It makes me smile to know you are retired and enjoying Alabama’s waters with your loved ones. Abrazos amigo.

  29. We will miss you Eric but you deserve a wonderful retirement. Enjoy life and my prayers are with you.

  30. Eric,
    I am so sorry to learn of your diagnosis and plans for retirement. Thank you for all you have done to make our lakes safer and cleaner.
    My best wishes to you as you leave and I will place your name on my prayer list.
    Judy May

  31. Eric,
    You are the most AWWsome person, an inspiration to many! Sending much love, many hugs and tons of prayers! Xoxo Hana

  32. Eric, I have something in my eye so it’s hard to type these words. And what to say?
    Words can’t describe what a privilege it was and is to work beside someone like you. Your knowledge and passion and never-give-up attitude taught me SO much!
    You are strong in body, mind, and spirit.
    I could go on for a while, but I’ll stop and just say, thank you.
    I love you and Maria – God bless you!
    P.S. Glad those toes are gonna be in the water 😉

  33. I am so sorry to hear this! Your kindness and your dedication/care for our water and every living thing that depends upon it have been and continue to be an inspiration to us all.

  34. Thank you, Eric. We love and support you and Ms. Maria and we are here whenever you need us.

    Michael S. Freeman, VP
    Alabama Water Watch Association

Comments are closed.