Monday, January 10, 2011

Breakfast and Data Sharing

Every January the volunteers of Green Acres' Saturday Stream Snapshot meet at the Izaak Walton League in Loveland to share breakfast and discuss water quality data they obtained through lab analysis from the previous year. We met this past Saturday.

Under the auspices of the Green Acres Foundation, citizen volunteers collect and analyze water samples taken from the main stem of the lower Little Miami River and its tributaries. The Water Quality Project Director directs the Stream Snapshot program and offers training and support to volunteers.

2010 represented the 8th sampling season. For me, water collection and lab analysis is a family affair. My dad and mom, along with my sister and me, have been involved with the Stream Snapshot program for 6 years. I'm not sure how it precisely came about, but our family developed a proclivity for testing fecal coliforms. So it was hardly surprising, albeit amusing, when we earned the witty moniker, "First Family of Fecals."

I always look forward to the data sharing breakfast. Most of the people involved with the Stream Snapshot are long term volunteers, which not only makes them allies in environmental protection and conservation, but good friends as well. Who doesn't like to share a great meal with friends?

The health of the Little Miami is a work in progress. While the main river is doing okay, some tributaries and creeks need help...some more help than others. It is the role of programs like Stream Snapshot to help identify contaminated areas, the particular contaminants, and possible sources for such contamination.

Citizen driven environmental data has become extremely helpful for local and state environmental agencies. With small staffs and dwindling departmental funding, government entities don't have the budget and/or personnel to effectively monitor all local waterways. The need for citizens to take an active role in monitoring and protecting environmental resources is extremely important. As it was succinctly stated at breakfast on Saturday, "Volunteers drive environmental quality."

Some pictures from the event

Using the GSI coordinates, here are all the locations volunteers collect water samples from in the Little Miami Watershed. Locations are marked in green.

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