Alabama Water Watch held their 17th Annual Meeting and Picnic on Saturday, June 19th at Auburn University. The event started with a mini-conference in Comer Hall. Bill Deutsch, AWW Program Director, welcomed guests from around the state, and asked them which of the 10 major basins in Alabama they came from. Folks from seven of the 10 basins were in attendance, from the Tallapoosa, Coosa, Chattahoochee, Tennessee, Coastal Plain Steams, Black Warrior and Cahaba basins. They collectively represented the following 16 groups that monitor from the Tennessee Valley to the Alabama Coast:
- Save Our Saugahatchee
- Friends of Chewacla and Uphapee Watersheds
- Lake Watch of Lake Martin
- Tri-River Region Water Watch
- Lake Mitchell HOBO
- RSVP Marshall County (Lake Guntersville)
- Lake Harding Water Watch
- Friends of Halawakee Creek
- Smith Lake Civic Association
- Alabama River Rats
- Watercress Darter Water Quality Monitoring Program
- Friends of Shades Creek
- Friends of Hodnett Creek
- Coastal Plain Streams Water Watch
- Jake and Donny Water Watch
- Mill Creek Watershed Management Plan
Bill continued by describing linkages among individual monitors, the AWW groups, the Alabama Water Watch Program and Alabama Water Watch Association (AWWA), and water watch globally – the Global Water Watch. He concluded by emphasizing that AWW is composed of three parts: the AU-based AWW Program, the 501(c)3 AWW Association (composed of board members from basins throughout the state) and the citizen monitoring groups (currently 58) throughout the state. He said that at the present time, there are strong ties and interactions between the AWW Program and the groups, and between the AWW Program and AWWA, but not a lot of interaction between the groups and AWWA. Bill had met with the AWWA board the previous evening to develop plans to strengthen this connection in the coming months.
Mike Kensler, Outreach Programs Administrator with the AU Water Resources Center, then spoke on the evolution of the environmental movement in the US, and how we got to where we are today. He outlined the ‘Alabama Water Watch story’ and suggested ways that AWW can revitalize its base, become more relevant to Alabamians, and increase organizational effectiveness going forward.
Jayme Oates, Executive Director of the AWWA, followed with a synopsis of AWWA deliberations over the past several months. AWWA has been working on a strategic plan consisting of five major goals:
Goal 1: Increase public awareness through increased data analysis, interpretation and dissemination,
Goal 2: Increase local group effectiveness and impact by providing them with the means to communicate and coordinate their efforts both with each other and with agency staff,
Goal 3: Secure stronger, more stable support of AWW from Auburn University,
Goal 4: Raise funds to meet annual budget goals and carry out annual activities,
Goal 5: Strengthen AWWA’s organizational capacity.
At the close of the mini-conference, all relocated to the AU ponds for a catfish & shrimp feed, followed by the 2010 AWW Awards Ceremony. This year’s awards went to the following individuals (note, awards are based on activity from June 2009-May 2010):
- The Mike Mullen Award – Monitor of the Year for outstanding performance and lasting contribution of an individual submitting the most records in the past year went to Bob Keefe (270 total water monitoring records submitted),
- Manic Stonefly Award for outstanding performance and lasting contribution of a group submitting the most combined records in the past year – Wolf Bay Watershed Watch (571 total water monitoring records submitted),
- The Trainer of the Year award for outstanding performance and lasting contribution of an individual conducting the most training sessions in the past year – Homer Singleton (11 water monitoring workshops),
- The AWW 08-09 MVP award for outstanding and dynamic performance and lasting contribution of an AWW Staff member during the past year – Eric Reutebuch (AWW staffer since 1996).
These individuals, along with all of the volunteer monitors throughout the state have given selflessly of their time and talent in monitoring and protecting the waters of Alabama, and for this we are truly grateful! The waters of Alabama are surely cleaner because of their collective efforts!