And the Winners Are…

The following awards were presented to AWW Groups and Monitors at the 2013 AWW Get-Together on Friday, May 10th, 2013:

2013 River Basin Award:  Chattahoochee Basin

[l to r] Roger Martin, Michael Freeman, Melissa Brown, Carl Badger, Susan Shiver, Bill Deutsch

In late 2009 there was one AWW monitor testing two sites in the Chattahoochee watershed.  Because of the efforts of many, the Chattahoochee River Basin now has eleven AWW monitors representing four groups!  Monitors from the “Hooch” representing all four groups were present.

Carl Badger with Lake Harding Water Watch

The lone monitor back in 2009, Carl Badger was certified in August of that year.  Carl samples on Halawaka and Osanippa Creeks and has submitted 69 Water Chemistry and 43 Bacteria records.  We still laugh about the day that Sam Fowler was traveling across a bridge over Halawaka Creek and saw someone out in a boat doing something with what looked like a hypodermic needle.  His first thought was “drug addicts”, however when taking a closer look, Sam realized that he was witnessing an AWW monitor at work!  In fact, this was Carl’s first monitoring event, with the help of his AWW mentor, Tia Gonzales. 

Roger Martin with Chattahoochee RiverWarden

Roger Martin has served since 2010 as the Executive Director of Chattahoochee RiverWarden, which uses advocacy, science and education for the protection and stewardship of the Lower Middle Chattahoochee watershed.  After retiring from a 34-year career with Ellis and Everard, US Holdings, Roger worked as Development Director for Apalachicola Riverkeeper for three years. CRW partners with public, private and nonprofit organizations to educate and train volunteers in citizen-scientist programs, raise awareness of water quality threats and organize waterway cleanups. Very active in the Georgia Adopt-a-Stream Program as a Trainer and monitor, Roger attended AWW workshops in February 2012 and helps sample four sites in the watershed for Water Chemistry (29 samples) and Bacteria (26 samples).

Melissa Brown with Phenix City Water Watch

Melissa Brown is the Erosion and Stormwater Coordinator for the City of Phenix City in the Engineering Department.  Melissa first heard about AWW at ADEM’s NonPoint Source Conference and thought it was a great program.  The City of Phenix City was excited about using AWW methods to monitor strategic sites and established Phenix City Water Watch after Melissa attended workshops in June 2012.  She currently tests at three sites and has submitted 22 records.  Phenix City hopes the information they receive from testing will catch problems before they get out of hand and allow them to keep Phenix City waterways healthy for future generations.

Mill Creek Watershed Management Plan

When Katie Dylewski first started working on the Mill Creek Watershed Plan in 2010, there were no monitors in the Mill Creek Watershed, which is 303(d) listed for organic enrichment.  Now AWW and GA-AAS monitors sample 13 sites each month. When they were writing the watershed plan, water quality data sets were sorely lacking. But, through the help of monitors in the Mill Creek watershed, they are able to track water quality data trends over time and have a better understanding of where on-the-ground projects would be most effective.

Other AWW monitors who participate with the Mill Creek WMP are Michael Freeman (Auburn University and Coast Guard), who has submitted 39 samples since in 2009, Susan Shiver (educator at Central High School), who has submitted 41 records since early 2012, and Joey Hundley (Lee County Highway Department), who has submitted 64 data records.  Joey said, “The first phase has been to identify if some stretches have more impairment than others.  With those being identified, they are now taking measures for improvement and monitoring to track if the measures have an impact.  Ultimately the goal is to have sufficient data to delist the stream.”

 

2013 Jump Start New Group Award: Ono Island Canal Owners Association

Volunteers for the Ono Island Canal Owners Association (OICOA) began water quality monitoring in June 2012. Monitors sample three sites each month and have submitted 74 records in less than a year. One of their sites had to be dropped because a large colony of swallows lived under the bridge which was directly over the site. The Coliscan plates had coliform and e-coli off the charts, so they moved to a different site.  Two months ago, group members were alerted to a problem at one of the island’s canals. The dissolved oxygen had decreased to a dangerous 3 ppm. OICOA found that the flow thru pipe that connected the canal to St. Johns water body had become blocked. After clearing the blockage, the dissolved oxygen in the canal was back up to an acceptable 5.4 ppm.  OICOA member, Gail Engel, said, “We currently have six volunteers that come from a variety of backgrounds. The AWW training and protocols helped us all to start at the same level of expertise. We also have saved the canal owners of Ono many thousands of dollars per year.  Previously we paid over $4000 for only two months of testing carried out by a commercial lab. Our startup cost [with AWW methods] was $2500, and we foresee continuing costs to be in the low hundreds, amounting to a huge savings for the OICOA trust fund.”  For their extraordinary monitoring efforts and ability to use their data to take action, AWW is delighted to present the 2013 Jump Start New Group Award to Ono Island Canal Owners Association.

 

2013 Jump Start Monitor:  Oliver Van der Ende

Oliver van den Ende is a natural resource planner for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, stationed at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Decatur.  Primary duties include assisting Wheeler and other refuges in northern Alabama and other states with their management plans, proposals for adding lands to the Refuge System, and environmental impact analyses.  Wheeler Refuge straddles approximately 35,000 acres of the Tennessee River.  Because water quality was no longer being monitored on the refuge, Oliver became certified in November 2011 and began sampling two creeks that flow through the refuge in January 2012.  Limestone Creek is important from a recreational fishing standpoint, and it also supplies water to several large waterfowl impoundments.  Beaverdam Creek is the only known water body to support the spring pygmy sunfish, a species that requires well-vegetated, spring -fed waters and is currently being evaluated for listing under the Endangered Species Act.  Additionally, Oliver monitors Aldridge Creek, which drains the Jones Valley area of south Huntsville.  He has submitted a total of 37 Water Chemistry records for these sites since January 2012. A naturalist at heart, Oliver enjoys spending time outdoors, preferably somewhere on or near an abundant supply of clean water.  Oliver’s “surge from the gate” monitoring efforts at Wheeler have earned him the 2013 Jump Start Monitor Award.

 

2013 Revitalized Group Award: Lake Jordan HOBOs

The Lake Jordan HOBO’s group was established in 1994 and in the first seven years their monitors submitted over 460 data records.  However the next ten years saw a decline in water quality monitoring at Lake Jordan.  In October, 2011 two ladies from Lake Jordan in Elmore County drove to Auburn to attend the Water Chemistry and Bacteriological workshops being conducted that weekend.  Judy May and Ann Hill stuck it out that long day of lecture and field work and returned home to start reviving the monitoring efforts on Lake Jordan.  Since that workshop, 16 Water Chemistry monitors and four Bacteria monitors have been certified on Lake Jordan and 108 records have been submitted for 13 active sites.  For their rejuvenation efforts, Alabama Water Watch is honored to present the 2013 Revitalized Group Award to the Lake Jordan HOBO’s.

Judy May accepted the award for the group and has taken a leadership role, hosting two Water Chemistry workshops, two Recert sessions and a Bacteria workshop at her home on the lake.  Judy travels to new monitors to help them with their first sampling efforts and keeps tabs on the active status of group monitors.  She’s obtained funding to support water quality monitoring on the lake from the HOBO’s and is an active Water Chemistry and Bacteria monitor.

 

2013 Jump Start Trainer:  Patti Hurley

There’s not enough time to say all there is to say about Patti and her involvement with AWW, but we will say this – she is one of AWW’s most productive citizen Trainers! Some history – Patti attended her first workshop in the early 90’s and has submitted 728 water quality monitoring records (426 Water Chemistry / 302 Bacteria).  She became a citizen Trainer in 1997 and has conducted 67 workshops and recertification sessions.  Patti is a founding board member of the AWWA and still serves on the board.  Because AWW depends so heavily on our citizen Trainers, we wanted to recognize the Trainer that had conducted the most workshops up to this point of the year.  When we ran the numbers, Patti’s name rose to the top of list – she’s already conducted four workshops this year.  Imagine the impact we could have if every Trainer was as willing as Patti is to conduct a workshop – traveling the length of the state to teach people about water quality and how to monitor.  For being first out of the gate this year – AWW has the pleasure of giving Patti Hurley the 2013 Jump Start Trainer Award.

 

Groups that best represent the three “Data to Action” categories of AWW

2013 Environmental Education Award:  Central High School (Susan Shiver)

In November 2011 educator Susan Shiver organized a group of environmentally minded students at Central High School in Phenix City, Alabama to become certified as AWW Chemistry and Bacteria Monitors.  Approximately 15 students and the school nurse, Cindy Howard, participated in two days of training and field work.  Under the guidance of Susan, the students have honed their monitoring skills and are learning the importance of scientific data to watershed protection.  With the support of the Mill Creek Watershed Project, the group was able to acquire testing supplies and begin chemistry and bacteria monitoring of a small stream on the campus of CHS. The group has consistently turned in credible water data for the stream to the AWW online database – over 40 Water Chemistry and Bacteria records!  Susan said, “The students have been diligent .… through the summer, rain, and even a tornado warning! It has been amazing to listen to them talk about what they expect the test results to be when the weather has had extreme rain or drought over the last year. I think this is an experience that these students will take with them for a lifetime.”

Susan Shiver was first introduced to AWW while an undergraduate at Auburn University.  She has been teaching for ten years, the last nine years at Central High School in Phenix City, Alabama.  Susan teaches environmental science, biology, anatomy and physiology.  During her first years at Central High School she was asked to sponsor the Envirobowl and Envirothon clubs and not long after that started looking for ways that CHS students could help the environment.  She was introduced to AWW once again while attending the Envirothon competitions, and established a partnership in 2011 with the Mill Creek WMP.  Alabama Water Watch is proud to present the 2013 Environmental Education Award to Susan Shiver and her students for their dedication to the Mill Creek project and water quality monitoring on their campus.

 

2013 Advocacy and Policy:  Logan Martin Lake Protection Association

[l to r] Mike Riley, Isabella Trussell, Rita Grub, Wayne Wilcox

The Logan Martin Lake Protection Association water quality monitoring group was established in June, 1996.  Since that time, LMLPA monitors have submitted 2142 WC records and 570 Bacteria records from 46 sites on or near the lake.  From the beginning LMLPA understood that their data could be used to protect and improve the quality of life on the lake.  Monitoring of swimming areas has exposed bacteria contamination from broken sewage infrastructure and wildlife.  LMLPA data was used to help change local statutes, identify sewage problems needing repair and warn the community during times of unsafe access.  In addition to their consistent monitoring efforts, recently LMLPA has taken an active role in calling for a state-wide Water Policy in Alabama.  The LMLPA Government Committee composed a letter to Gov.  Bentley addressing concerns related to enhanced Certificates of Use / Permitting, economic development, drought planning, water conservation and reuse, inter-basin transfers, in stream flows, interstate coordination and water resources data.  Members of the committee presented this letter and their concerns in person to the governor in December, 2012.  For their ongoing efforts to put Lake Logan Martin monitor data into action and to influence a state-wide water policy, Alabama Water Watch honors Logan Martin Lake Protection Association with the 2013 Advocacy and Policy Award.

 

2013 Restoration and Protection:  Bill Peters and Gene Grimes (Living River Center)

[l to r] Bill Peters, Gene Grimes, Bill Deutsch

Most of us would agree that our connection to water goes beyond the physical, into the realm of emotional and spiritual.  In 2000 the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley in Bibb and Shelby County purchased 440 acres on a sharp bend in the Cahaba River to establish Living River, a camp and environmental education facility.  One of their first projects was to remove a concrete slab used during mining in the 1960’s and 70’s.  Unfortunately the slab had acted as a mini-dam, blocking proper migration for fish and other river creatures.  In 2009 Living River was the only Mine Reclamation activity in progress in the state.  AWW monitors Bill Peters and Gene Grimes are members of Montevallo Presbyterian Church and participate in the Living River vision by conducting monthly water monitoring at two sites in the facility.  Bill says, “We wanted to start accumulating background data and creating an ongoing record of water quality there.  We chose two sites for our testing–one at the upstream end of the property and another about five miles downstream.  This … allows us to determine if construction activities on the site are impacting water quality …. [and] provides us with data both upstream and downstream of the point where Shades Creek enters the Cahaba, helping us determine if there are concerns related to the inflow from Shades Creek.”  Bill and Gene have submitted 56 Water Chemistry and Bacteria records.  For their commitment to a project which is seeking to restore and preserve the biodiversity of the longest free-flowing river in the state, Alabama Water Watch is thrilled to present the 2013 Restoration and Protection Award to Montevallo Presbyterian Church Green Team members, Bill Peters and Gene Grimes.

 

2013 Mike Mullen Award:  Mark Butler

Mark was certified as an AWW monitor in 2007 and since that time he has done Water Chemistry and Bacteria monitoring on a regular basis. He works with the Blount County Soil and Water Conservation District as the Coordinator of the Dry Creek Watershed Management Project. Dry Creek is in the Middle Locust Fork watershed of the Black Warrior River Basin in north central Alabama.  It was placed on the 303(d) of impaired waters list because of water quality issues related to nutrients, ammonia, organic enrichment and pathogens from pasture grazing runoff. Because of Mark’s efforts, water monitoring has become a big part of this project. This year, Mark has submitted 76 water data records which makes him the monitor of the year! He couldn’t be at the Awards Presentation because of his daughter’s graduation, but when we spoke with him earlier in the week he said that they have just received word that Dry Creek is coming off the impaired list for ammonia because of the improvements that have been made by his project.  For submitting the most data records in a year and having a positive impact on water quality in his community, AWW is pleased to bestow the 2013 Mike Mullen Monitor of the Year Award to Mark Butler.

 

2013 Group of the Year: Coastal Plains Streams Water Watch

For the most part, Coastal Plains Streams Water Watch is a two-person team, Mike and Alice Mullen.  But this team qualifies as a GROUP – and what a group they are!  In two decades of water watching, CPSWW has submitted almost 4,200 Water Chemistry records and 300 Bacteria records.   Mike’s first recorded training in AWW methods was in 1993 and Alice’s in 1994, so they’ve been involved with AWW pretty much from the beginning.  Mike, former faculty of Troy University, is now the Choctawhatchee River Keeper.  He is a founding board member of the AWWA and still serves on the board.  In 2012, Coastal Plains Streams Water submitted 341 Water Chemistry records and 82 Bacteria records, for a total of 423 records.  It’s plain that this group takes stewardship of their area’s water resources seriously.  For this labor of intense love and incredible dedication AWW is honored to present Coastal Plains Streams Water Watch with the 2013 Group of the Year Award.

 

2013 Trainer of the Year:   Homer Singleton

It was ten ye