World Water Monitoring Day

World Water Monitoring Day

by Ruth Mead, Sr. Environmental Educator

SONY DSCHappy World Water Monitoring Day – officially September 18! Wow – just what does that mean? Sounds like a day for scientist to stick lots of probes in the water and run back to the lab with lots of samples. Wait – no –  they do that every day. So why do they need a special day to celebrate? World Water Monitoring Day is a day for everyone to celebrate our waterways: from the trickling brook running through the backyard to our larger waterways such as the Savannah River – the lifeblood of Augusta.

This special day was established as an international education and outreach program to build public awareness of the importance of protecting water resources around the world. In 2012, the World Water Monitoring Challenge grew out of World Water Monitoring Day and it runs from March 22 to Dec 31. This challenge educates and engages citizens in the protection of the world’s water resources by giving them the opportunity to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies. So why monitor? It helps us know when our streams might be in trouble. Can we swim in them, fish from them, draw drinking water from them?

jason river craneHere at the Phinizy Center, every day is Water Monitoring Day! For nearly 10 years our research team has been continuously monitoring 200 miles of the Savannah River. We are now in the Ogeechee and Edisto Rivers. With our datasondes, we are able to monitor every 15 minutes – continuously. That’s a lot of data! It’s like having a movie of what’s happening in the river instead of a snapshot of one point in time. It allows us to see just what happens to the water quality over time, which helps regulators set limits and detect problems when they arrive.

CIMG0079Phinizy Center education gives students a chance to monitor a local stream. Through our school field trips, summer camp program, Creek Freaks, GA Master Naturalist classes and GA Adopt-A-Stream training, students become scientists, putting on waders to collect water samples and making conclusions on water quality. We feel the best way to teach about water quality issues is to get citizens involved – the same philosophy as World Water Monitoring Day!

Georgia Adopt-A-Stream (AAS) also celebrates water monitoring every day. They offer citizens the tools and training to become citizen scientists and monitor their local streams. With over 14,000 volunteers statewide, they are truly raising awareness on water quality issues in our state. Plus, the volunteers are making a difference for our streams.

IMG_0045What can you do? Get involved! Celebrate World Water Monitoring Day by visiting your local stream. Have a picnic by the waters, skip a rock across the surface, dip your toes in the water, and thank the stream for all it provides. Get involved – learn how you can monitor your stream, join a GA AAS training or go online for your World Water Monitoring Challenge kit. Plan a cleanup or join in on one. Phinizy Center hosts an annual River’s Alive cleanup day. This year’s event is scheduled for October 24 from 9 to 12 with a cookout following the event – and the first 100 volunteers to register will receive a free t-shirt. So what are you waiting for? Head out to your nearest stream!