A group of dedicated area residents dipped tubes and collection bottles into the Indian Creek Canal in downtown Huntsville to test an array of water chemistry parameters on November 19th 2011 (click here for Huntsville Time blog article).

Trainers from Alabama Water Watch (AWW) and the Flint River Conservation Association (FRCA) hosted one of AWW’s largest workshops ever, with 33 attendees. Participants included professional agency folks, teachers, students, a couple of spelunkers, and retired folks.

During the classroom portion of the six-hour Water Chemistry workshop, participants learned about Alabama Water Watch, its mission, vision and goals, and an overview of the water environment, pollution and water quality standards, how to develop a water monitoring plan, and how to conduct the six water chemistry tests included in the AWW water test kit. Tests include temperature, pH, alkalinity, hardness, turbidity and dissolved oxygen. Secchi disk depth, a measure of water clarity in lakes and ponds, was also demonstrated.

After lunch, the trainees conducted tested the water of Indian Creek Canal. AWW trainers stressed following the protocols in the AWW Water Chemistry Monitoring manual, doing the tests correctly, and conducting consistent monitoring (usually once a month) over the long haul to detect trends and be able to see if water quality is getting better or getting worse. 

The diversity in trainees exemplified the many different reasons why folks monitor water and the diversity in the many ways that AWW water data are put into positive action, such as environmental education, outreach, waterbody conservation/ restoration, environmental advocacy/influencing water policy. This group of enthusiastic volunteer monitors will be a big shot in the arm to watershed stewardship in the Huntsville area!