What is "Community Water Monitoring"?
You may have heard of citizen science or volunteer monitoring, but the expression community monitoring may be new to you. There is actually a distinction between these terms. We use the term community monitoring as an inclusive term that includes both citizen science and volunteer monitoring activities.
Research that is initiated and managed by non-agency volunteers.
Public participation in professionally-driven scientific research.
All-inclusive term that we are using to encompass both volmon and citsci!
Community-based water monitoring programs have existed in New Jersey for decades. Formalized programs, like The Watershed Institute’s StreamWatch volunteer water monitoring program, were developed in the early 1990s to provide a more focused picture of water quality in streams and lakes that were not regularly monitored by the state.
Generally beginning as environmental education and advocacy initiatives, many monitoring groups have expanded over the years to share the same high-quality monitoring methods as New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection staff. The biennial Integrated Report is designed to summarize the conditions of all of New Jersey’s waterways, however monitoring on this scale can be improved by leveraging resources and extending partnerships. High-quality community-based monitoring data can fill these spatial and temporal gaps, providing a clearer picture from which subwatershed assessments can be made.
Uses of Volunteer Collected Data
Current Conditions and Needs of Community Monitoring Groups
In late 2011 and early 2012, the Extension Volunteer Monitoring Network (EVMN) conducted a needs assessment of volunteer water monitoring programs across the United States. USEPA’s Volunteer Monitoring listserv and the Extension Volunteer Monitoring Network’s listserv were used to solicit responses. The survey asked about programs’ beginnings, ongoing activities and existing needs. The 103 respondents from 41 states represented 94 unique programs.