Local Community supports Water Watchers

Save Our Saugahatchee water monitors got some great news at their last group meeting in mid-October – funding from local government to support their ongoing water monitoring activities in the Saugahatchee Watershed! This was extremely welcome and important news on several fronts:

  • SOS has very limited financial resources,
  • given the ongoing rapid development, the Saugahatchee Watershed needs TLC now more than ever, and
  • support by local governmental entities equates to them ‘buying-in’ to Alabama Water Watch’s Community-based Watershed Stewardship model – a big boost for SOS monitoring and watershed stewardship efforts!
Cliff Webber and Eric Reutebuch (on left, SOS board member and president) ceremonially receive support for annual water monitoring supplies from Joey Hundley, Dan Ballard and Scott Parker (center and to the right, representing Lee County, City of Auburn and City of Opelika).
Cliff Webber and Eric Reutebuch (on left, SOS board member and president) ceremonially receive support for annual water monitoring supplies from Joey Hundley, Dan Ballard and Scott Parker (center and to the right, representing Lee County, City of Auburn and City of Opelika).

Since they value and utilize SOS water data, the City of Opelika, the City of Auburn, and Lee County have pledged support of local water monitoring efforts to the tune of $350 each, for a total of $1,050 per year. SOS volunteer monitors have been monitoring numerous sites in the Saugahatchee Watershed since 1997, and currently monitor 23 sites from Opelika to Reeltown (see map below).

SOS volunteer water monitoring sites from the headwaters (Opelika area) to the confluence with the Tallapoosa River at Yates Lake just west of Reeltown.
SOS volunteer water monitoring sites from the headwaters (Opelika area) to the confluence with the Tallapoosa River at Yates Lake just west of Reeltown.

SOS has contributed nearly 3,000 water quality data records to the AWW statewide online database (2,148 water chemistry records and 689 bacteriological records as of October 2014). These data have been used by a wide array of agencies, groups and individuals including local municipalities, county agencies, university researchers, and state agencies for water resource management purposes. Data use has included:

  • tracking contamination (sewage) of local waters,
  • aiding in monitoring and tracking fish kills,
  • monitoring industrial point source discharges,
  • water monitoring used in implementation of ADEM-funded watershed management plans aimed at water quality improvement, and,
  • municipal and county water monitoring required by ADEM’s permitting of Phase II Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s).  

The AWW Program is very excited about this support of local watershed stewardship. Since the loss of core funding from a long-running 319 grant from ADEM back in 2010, AWW has asked volunteer water monitoring groups throughout the state to not only donate their time and talent to monitoring, but to pay for all of their monitoring supplies as well. As you might imagine, several groups were not very happy about this, especially since they donate lots of time, effort and expense in monitoring their local waterbodies. AWW feels that the responsible actions taken by the City of Opelika, the City of Auburn and Lee County can serve as a model for support of local watershed stewardship throughout the state, especially since many of the municipalities and counties in Alabama are now required by ADEM to conduct water monitoring and watershed stewardship activities and outreach. Via this model, local cash-strapped monitoring groups receive support to continue, or even increase, their water monitoring activities, and local municipalities/agencies can incorporate their support of local monitoring groups as part of their required watershed activities in their annual reports to ADEM. Sounds like a WIN-WIN to me!

 

One Reply to “Local Community supports Water Watchers”

  1. This is a real break-through, and a great model for other AWW groups and local governmental units to follow. Particularly with the expansion of the Storm Water regulations to smaller cities like Auburn, it’s a natural for cities through Alabama to create these kind of partnerships and get some of the most cost-effective data money can buy, along with lots of good will from the citizens…of course, that presumes that the authorities use the data in positive ways!

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