After a delicious dinner catered by Zoe’s Kitchen, and an enjoyable time of fellowship, attendees were provided an update on AWW Program activities and accomplishments.
Dr. Sam Fowler, Director of the Auburn University Water Resources Center welcomed the group and gave a few comments regarding the transition of Alabama Water Watch to the AUWRC during the past year.
Rita Grub shared some interesting statistics with the group. In the past year,
- AWW has received over 3,200 water quality records from volunteer monitors all over the state.
- Over 400 different sites were tested on more than 200 waterbodies.
- Approximately 400 monitors have been certified through 79 training sessions (approximately 60% of workshops were conducted by or with the assistance of citizen trainers
- 19 trainers completed a Trainer Refresher Workshop
- 7 new trainers have been certified through the Training of Trainers workshop which is the first step to becoming a volunteer trainer. To see the most recent list of statewide trainers visit: http://www.alabamawaterwatch.org/about/trainers.html .
Sergio Ruiz-Cordova shared information about some exciting updates taking place with the AWW database. Most monitors (and even staff), don’t realize all of the behind the scenes work that goes on to keep the valuable AWW database up and running smoothly. Sergio and programmer Jim Johnson are making needed upgrades to the database that includes a switch from Access 2000 to Access 2013. In addition, they are adding a feature that will allow citizens to explore water data based on various watershed scales (HUC 8, 10, and 12). This will be very useful in determining causes of pollution, developing watershed plans, and generally knowing what is going on in your watershed.
AWW Youth Education
In the past couple of years, AWW staff and volunteers have recognized the need for increased AWW youth education. Adult volunteer monitors have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with the next generation. Mona Dominguez shared what has been accomplished in the past year related to increased youth education.
- AWW has educated more than 400 youth about water quality and monitoring during 15 different activities.
- About 100 educators were trained to use AWW monitoring and curriculum in classrooms and clubs.
This impact is only expected to increase in the coming year! Stay tuned.
According to the National Water Quality Inventory, pathogens pose the biggest threat to streams and pollutants. In a 2004 study, they estimated that pathogens contaminate over 72,000 miles of waterways in the United States. AWW monitors have been testing for bacteria contamination since 1996, and AWW is always looking for ways to increase the impact of bacteria data. Eric Reutebuch shared important updates regarding bacteriological monitoring that included a brief overview of the Swim Guide web tool/phone app, how it can help to protect public health, and how it provides monitors a great data-to-action outlet.
Eric discussed AWW’s latest bacteriological initiative which is to investigate the possibilities of incorporating an Enterococcus bacteria test to AWW’s suite of water tests. Enterococcus is the preferred bacteria indicator of fecal contamination for salt and brackish waters. The availability of this test would be very helpful to our coastal monitors in particular. Eric also shared information about two major research projects focused on bacteria monitoring in which he and other Auburn University staff/faculty are involved: the USDA/Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Grant and the Water Resource Research Institute Grant (see www.aaes.auburn.edu/water/projects).