Since its beginnings in 1992 under Dr. Bill Deutsch, Alabama Water Watch (AWW) has worked with phenomenal volunteers throughout the state who have given of their time, talents and treasure to further AWW’s mission of improving both water quality and water policy through citizen monitoring and action. Dr. Deutsch awarded the first AWW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 to Mr. Ray Kelley, an environmental leader in north Alabama, a long-time AWW monitor, trainer and member of the AWWA Board of Directors. The award was initiated to recognize individuals who exemplified a spirit of watershed stewardship above-and-beyond the call of duty. Ray Kelley definitely fit the bill!
AWW is proud to award a second Lifetime Achievement Award to Dick and Mary Ann Bronson! Since they moved to Lake Martin in 1979, the Bronsons have devoted themselves to volunteer service. Through their work with Lake Watch of Lake Martin, they have worked for the preservation and enhancement of surface waters in the Tallapoosa Basin, and throughout Alabama. Their tireless efforts include:
- founding Lake Watch of Lake Martin (LWLM), a nonprofit citizen volunteer organization in 1991, a premiere environmental group, involved in environmental education, environmental protection and environmental advocacy,
- joining the then-newly formed AWW Program in 1993, and getting several members trained and certified in water monitoring – one of the first citizen volunteer groups to do so,
- Dick then got trained as an AWW Trainer in 1995, and has conducted 2 dozen workshops, and trained scores of AWW citizen monitors,
- establishing a network of water quality monitoring sites from the headwater streams, through the lake, down to Martin Dam,
- monitoring water chemistry at their site at Bay Pine Island on Lake Martin for 264 months – 22 years! – the most data records of any site in the Tallapoosa Basin (see chart below)!
- working at the local and state level to advocate for and help mitigate point source pollution problems in Lake Martin,
- actively participating in supporting and developing policies to protect Lake Martin, and other public waters in Alabama,
- partnering with Auburn University scientists in the drafting of several proposals to Alabama Power Company, USDA, and the World Wildlife Fund to conduct research and outreach throughout the Tallapoosa River Basin,
- conducting an environmental education program, which the Bronsons named ‘Living Streams’ for thousands of school children, scouts and teachers, yearly at Camp ASCCA over the past two decades, instilling an environmental ethic in thousands of our youth (an estimated 6,000), which led to the foundation of AWW’s AMSTI-endorsed Exploring Our Living Streams environmental education curriculum,
- hosting numerous international groups, composed of educators, scientists, and fellow volunteer monitors, from around the world at their home to socialize and exchange information on community based watershed stewardship,
- partnering in a ‘State of Our Watershed Conference’ for the Tallapoosa River Basin, which has been emulated in other basins including the Coosa, Black Warrior and Cahaba,
- actively participating in countless Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing meetings over a period of several years, advocating for environmentally sound management of Lake Martin and the Tallapoosa River over the coming decades,
- advocating and defending water rights in interstate disputes known as the ‘Water Wars,’ helping to ensure that water quality and water quantity in the Tallapoosa River Basin are preserved, and,
- in December 2010, after a lengthy personal crusade over several years involving numerous trips to Montgomery, water monitoring, data-gathering and a whole lot of personal communications, for the recognition and protection for Lake Martin, Dick and Mary Ann witnessed the fruits of their labors when then-Governor Bob Riley signed Executive Order 52, establishing Treasured Alabama Lake (TAL), an entirely new official designation for lakes in Alabama; followed by Martin being designated by ADEM as the first TAL. This new designation will afford Lake Martin and other future TAL lakes recognition and protection for generations to come.
The Bronsons have worked selflessly and tirelessly over the past three decades, educating thousands of children and adults, participating in water quality studies, and advocating for clean water and a healthy environment, yielding many fruits from their labors, which continue to benefit us all. There are few people in this state that have given so much of their time, treasure and talent for the protection of our environment. It is our firm belief, as the Alabama Water Watch Program staff, that Dick and Mary Ann Bronson are highly deserving of the AWW Lifetime Achievement Award!
THANK YOU, Dick and Mary Ann, and CONGRATULATIONS!