Share your watershed successes and inspire others

Being a part of Alabama Water Watch (AWW), whether you are a monitor, a member of the AWW Association (AWWA), you work in the AWW office, or all of the above, means being part of a community that is dedicated to the same goal: protecting and restoring water quality in Alabama.  As a community we should celebrate our successes, support each other in difficult situations, and learn from each others’ experiences.  In an effort to encourage this type of a community for AWW we would like to publicize more stories about the individuals and groups that make up AWW.  We want to show how monitors are using their data and how groups are working together with their communities to protect their water resources.  

Thanks to the data collected by citizen volunteers throughout the state, AWW is making a real difference in Alabama’s water quality.  Many citizen volunteers monitor water quality at sites on streams, rivers, lakes, bays, or bayous faithfully every month for years. Some discover water quality problems, many do not.  Whether or not a monitor unearths a water quality “smoking gun”, all water data collected by AWW-certified monitors are valuable.  This is emphasized each time AWW staff analyze citizen and agency (ADEM, AU, USGS, etc. data in preparation for a “data interpretation” presentation for an AWW Group.  In these presentations, group efforts are highlighted, water quality data trends are summarized, watershed-level assessments are presented, and land-use relationships relative to water quality are examined. 

Data interpretation at Pell City with the Logan Martin Lake Protection Association, February 2006

Methods of assessing water quality problems vary.  One way is to compare measurements to water quality standards set by EPA or by the state.  Another way is to compare measurements to the water quality of another “reference” site that is considered “relatively pristine” or unimpacted.  Thus it is valuable to have water quality measurements from waterbodies lying in the different geologic/soil regions of the state to provide reference water quality conditions for evaluating impacts.  Also, several incidents of leaks or spills (sewage leaks, release of chlorinated swimming pool water, etc.) have been “caught “by regular monthly monitoring by citizen volunteer monitors.

AWW monitoring sites (red dots)in the Geographic Regions of Alabama (click to enlarge)*

Monitors have used their data to bring about positive changes in their watersheds for many years.  Each “Success Story” is unique and offers many lessons for other water quality monitors.  By hearing these real life stories of taking data to action, it is hopeful that the water monitors throughout the state will be encouraged to strengthen monitoring efforts and be inspired to think creatively when faced with difficult water quality issues. AWW would like to highlight your group’s success stories and put them on our statewide “Map of Success”.  We would also like to share helpful tips that you may have for water monitoring and making a difference in your community with other AWW groups.  If you have a success story or helpful suggestion to share, you can contact the AWW office by phone or email.   (for contact info, CLICK HERE). These stories can be about your personal experience, that of your group or another monitor.  

We are pleased to feature a recent AWW group, the Town of Magnolia Springs water watchers (TOMS), success story – a story of committed volunteer monitors working collaboratively with local officials to solve a water quality problem in the Magnolia River (to read more, CLICK HERE) – Go TOMS!

We look forward to hearing from you about your success story!

*Special THANKS to the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service’s Alabama Water Information System – Geo-Spatial (Geographic Information System) Data group for assistance in compilation of the state-wide map! To check out the tremendous GIS resource they have created, CLICK HERE.