Swimming With a Buddy: How Strategic Partnerships Are Advancing the League's Water Work

Sam Briggs, Acting Clean Water Program Director

The Izaak Walton League has a long history of partnering with other organizations to advance our conservation goals. Our flagship Save Our Streams program – for which we're now aiming to monitor 100,000 stream sites by 2022 – certainly involves goals we can't accomplish alone. That's why, in addition to enlisting volunteer stream monitors across the country, we joined a partnership called the Water Data Collaborative.

The Collaborative's steering committee is a veritable Who's Who of leaders in the field of water quality monitoring. Seats are held by River Network, Waterkeeper Alliance, Chesapeake Conservancy, Chesapeake Commons, River Watch of Colorado, CUASHI (Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc.), and Duke Nicholas Institute and the Internet of Water – and of course, IWLA. Together, these organizations are working to expand the proactive engagement of citizen-science-focused non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with the Internet of Water community. As our shared repository of water quality data continues to expand, we're also working to make sure these data are used in public policy and community decision-making.

These collective efforts are paying off. With the support of the Collaborative, the League was able to launch the Clean Water Hub, a cutting-edge tool for collecting stream quality data from volunteer monitors and showing it to decision-makers in an easy-to-understand visual format.

And the Collaborative's successes in the fields of technology and volunteer engagement are being noticed. Staff members of the Collaborative's partner organizations were invited to give presentations as part of the Environmental Protection Agency's Watershed Academy Webinar Series.

In the webinar delivered this week, I presented about the background of the Collaborative, as well as about our study design project to elevate the quality of volunteer monitoring groups. John Dawes from Chesapeake Commons discussed our technology solutions, including the Clean Water Hub, and Emily Wiggans from Chesapeake Conservancy showed off some of the higher-level uses the Collaborative is putting its data to.

Over 350 people attended the webinar. If you missed it, you can check out the slides. A recording of the webinar will be posted at this same link in a few weeks.