ADEM acknowledges value of citizen water data

In March 2012, AWW responded to a request for public input relative to ADEM’s 2012 draft 303(d) list of impaired streams. AWW examined volunteer monitor water data collected in recent years, and requested that ADEM consider this wealth of information as it evaluated the condition of the state’s streams, rivers, lakes and coastal waters.

Pat and Tom Lynch monitoring at their site on Lake Martin

Water data from 2007 through 2012 were compiled from the AWW database, totaling over 13,000 data records from 624 sites throughout the state. An evaluation of these data based on dissolved oxygen (DO) readings indicated that several streams and coastal waters were frequently DO-impaired (had DO concentrations less than the 5 ppm minimum mandated by ADEM for sustaining fish and wildlife). A total of 24 sites on 20 different waterbodies had at least 40% of their DO readings below 5 ppm, and the majority of these waterbodies were not on ADEM’s impaired list. A caveat was noted, acknowledging that some of these DO impairments may have been from natural causes, such as low stream flow.

We invite you to read ADEM’s response to AWW’s input (and the input/comments of others) by clicking the link at the end of this article. In summary, ADEM:

  • appreciated the work of AWW, acknowledging that it is a nationally-recognized citizen monitoring program,
  • acknowledged the value of AWW monitoring efforts in helping to identify where additional monitoring resources are needed,
  • agreed that waterbodies identified as impaired by AWW monitors warrant additional investigation, and will be included in ADEM monitoring efforts, and,
  • suggested that some of the impaired waterbodies on AWW’s list were impaired because of low-flow conditions.

While citizen volunteer monitors continue to faithfully monitor the waters they love, AWW will promote and pursue the use of citizen water data to positively influence Alabama’s water policy.

Click here for AWW’s input to ADEM’s 2012 draft 303(d) list

Click here for ADEMs responses to AWW’s and other groups’ input

 

3 Replies to “ADEM acknowledges value of citizen water data”

  1. It’s good to see ADEM publicly acknowledge the value of AWW’s data and citizen volunteers. Rather than cut AWW funding, they should increase it and support expansion of the program. Data from trained volunteers could be used to supplant the data that ADEM cannot afford to collect with its own staff. Continuation of financial support for AWW would also go a long way toward improving ADEM’s poor public image and reputation as a do-nothing agency.

  2. Thanks for letting us know the data we collect and submit is indeed useful. We knew when we volunteered to be water monitors over 8 years ago that it would take years of data to be able to determine if changes are occurring. In addition to the slow and steady acquisition of data, water testing gets us outside on the water at least twice a month!

  3. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is continually impressed by the efforts of AWW and the citizens of Alabama. You deserve a lot of credit for the work that you have put in to help secure the future of this states water quality. As a member of the Mill Creek project in Lee/Russell Counties, I have seen first hand the impact of our data and the availability of it to ADEM is outstanding. We hope that each and every one of you remember that and keep the faith as we continue to march through uncertain economic times. Our organization is looking at a 34% reduction in funding over the next budget cycle but we will continue to do what we can, even out of pocket, to do the best job possible.

    Sincerely,

    Michael S. Freeman
    Vice Flotilla Commander
    USCG Aux. Flotilla 8-12
    Tallapoosa River

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