Out and About With the Clean Water Program: National Water Monitoring Conference

Sam Briggs, Acting Clean Water Program Director
Sam Briggs presenting

Last week, Emily Bialowas (Chesapeake Monitoring Outreach Coordinator) and I had the pleasure of attending the National Water Monitoring Conference in Denver, Colorado. This conference is hosted each year by the National Water Quality Monitoring Council, which has a heavy presence of federal and state agencies as well as NGOs like the Izaak Walton League.

During the week-long conference, I gave three presentations: Beginning with the End in Mind (Tools from the Water Data Collaborative), Lessons Learned from 50 Years of Save Our Streams, and Tiers of Engagement – Creative Methods for Easy Stream Monitoring. Emily also presented, speaking about Building Blocks for the Chesapeake Bay Monitoring Cooperative alongside colleagues from the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative squad.

The conference had a massive turnout of almost 900 attendees from all over the US, with some even coming from Canada! This meant Emily and I had a jam-packed schedule of not only giving presentations, but engaging in sessions about water quality monitoring, volunteer engagement, data management, and cool new technology.

There were almost 100 volunteer monitoring representatives in attendance as well, which meant we had tons of great conversations about League programs and capacity nationwide. We even were able to participate in a volunteer monitoring dinner out in Denver, and one thing is for sure: there are organizations all over the US that are facilitating really awesome volunteer monitoring initiatives, covering everything from macroinvertebrates to pathogens to microplastics.

Being involved in the conversation about water quality monitoring at the national level is key to the success of the League’s clean water efforts nationwide. Not only are we sharing our protocols, database, and insights with allied organizations, but we are also engaging more groups in our efforts. We were even able to have conversations with some of the state and federal leaders who use water quality data gathered by volunteers. This is crucial in raising the visibility and status of our Save Our Streams program among the policy-makers who decide which information sources they will use in their work.

One thing is for sure – we didn’t have a chance to get up into the mountains while in Denver. What we did do, however, was make some valuable connections and put the League’s water quality initiatives in front of a national audience.