Last fall, Alabama Water Watch (AWW) was contacted by Flotilla Commander Jake Shaw, Director of the Coast Guard Auxiliary (CGA) at Auburn University. Commander Shaw, and the AU CGA cadets were interested in AWW and how water monitoring might mesh with their mission to be involved in environmental stewardship. After an introductory presentation on AWW, they felt that becoming AWW-certified in water monitoring would be a great fit!
With the AWW ‘data-to-action’ strategy in mind, AWW connected the AU CGA with the City of Auburn Water Resources Department (WRD). Dan Ballard, the department’s Watershed Division Manager, saw working with the cadets as a definite ‘Win-Win’. The cadets win by gaining beyond-the-classroom real-life field experience monitoring stream sites in collaboration with WRD staffers, gathering valuable water data that will aid in watershed management decisions. The City’s WRD wins by having a corps of bright, energetic, dedicated cadets gathering additional water quality data in the city, which would otherwise be unavailable.
The cadets proceeded with certification in Bacteriological Monitoring in late-2016, and then got certified in Water Chemistry monitoring this past April. They have adopted two stream sampling sites each, selected in consultation with the City WRD, as strategic high-value sites.
Dan, who is also an adjunct faculty in AU Landscape Architecture, said, “the cadets’ water sampling efforts in the Auburn-area will not only be a valuable asset in the development of their professional careers, but it will also enable the City of Auburn to more efficiently and effectively manage our water resources.”
FC Shaw added, “the cadets’ involvement in local watershed stewardship through water monitoring fulfills their environmental stewardship mission in a very meaningful and worthwhile way. These efforts at Auburn University may serve as a pilot for other coast guard auxiliaries to emulate throughout the state”.