Water monitors from throughout Alabama came together Saturday, June 25th to celebrate 24 years of watching the water. Alabama Water Watch (AWW) hosted their annual meeting on the Auburn University campus. Eric Reutebuch, AWW Director, welcomed the crowd, congratulated AWW volunteer monitors and trainers on their efforts, and extended AWW’s gratitude for support provided by both the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station (AAES) and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES).
Dr. Patterson, Director of AAES and Dean of the College of Agriculture (CoAg), followed. He presented an overview of the challenges faced by AAES and CoAg, and gave examples of some of the innovative ways these challenges are being met. One example – development of an innovative rainwater harvest system that employs huge 100,000 gallon bladders with integrated water filtration/purification systems that save Alabama poultry producers thousands of dollars per year on water bills AND save millions of gallons of potable municipal water at the same time (see http://news.aces.edu/blog/2016/04/27/rainwater-harvesting-revolutionize-poultry-biz/). Dr. Patterson went on to say that managing agricultural production systems sustainably in order to maintain adequate supplies of clean water is a primary challenge for current-day agriculture, AAES and CoAg. He emphasized how AWW’s focus on watershed stewardship acts to bridge the gap between sustainable land management and maintaining clean, healthy aquatic ecosystems for future generations.
Dr. Brown, Associate Director of ACES followed with additional encouraging thoughts. He identified a major challenge for ACES as engaging youth in natural resource-based activities. He praised the work of the ACES natural resources team for their work to meet this challenge, and AWW staffer, Mona Dominguez for her work in developing the 4-H AWW Program (www.aces.edu/4-H-youth/AL4-H/resources/nature/environment/water.php). He felt that this program will be instrumental in introducing a new generation to the great outdoors and instilling in them an environmental ethic and an appreciation for sustainable use of our natural resources.
Thanks to this support, and integration into a stable home as part of the Auburn University Water Resources Center, AWW is able to continue its legacy of promoting watershed stewardship throughout the state. As of June 2016, AWW-certified volunteer monitors had submitted over 83,000 water quality records collected at more than 2,300 sites to AWW’s online database! Adding to this numerous success stories in environmental education, protection/restoration of waterbodies and advancements in water management and water policy (see www.alabamawaterwatch.org/about-us/aww-success-stories), there was much to give thanks for! In conclusion, Eric felt that, given such solid support, AWW is on solid ground indeed!