League Working to Expand Citizen Science

Virginia Stream MonitoringWith the right tools and training, volunteers can collect valuable, scientifically valid information about water quality. The problem is that many states do not accept citizen data or acknowledge its accuracy.

The League is working to change that in the Chesapeake Bay region. We partnered with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Chesapeake Bay Program to increase information — including volunteer-collected data — available to track the progress of Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts.

Citizen science data collected through the League’s Save Our Streams program can make Bay Report Cards more accurate and better track the progress states are making toward meeting water quality improvement goals. This is the beginning of a six-year project that will include inventorying information currently collected, identifying data gaps, reviewing stream monitoring protocols currently used by volunteer groups, and determining if any new protocols need to be developed. We will then work to recruit and train new volunteer water quality monitors.

This focus on volunteer data is part of a national trend. The White House recently announced a new focus on citizen science, directing federal agencies to broaden their use of citizen science and providing numerous resources to support citizen science efforts.