Community Science and Water Pollution

October 9, 2020 10:00 am — 11:30 am

Co-sponsored by the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE)

Water quality monitoring by citizens or community organizations has long been an element of government water quality management programs.  In the United States, Clean Water Act regulations specifically require states to consider data from outside sources, including private individuals or organizations.  This citizen involvement is important because location-specific information on pollution, especially diffuse sources of water pollution is difficult to gather using only government-owned and operated monitors. In addition, prominent advocacy organizations such as Waterkeepers have relied on samples gathered by their staff or volunteers to pursue citizen litigation against discharges or to report information on possible violations to governments.

Much of this monitoring has relied on long-standing sampling techniques but new technologies have increasingly enabled community-based monitors to gather information on a wider range of parameters more frequently.  Some of these systems involve elaborate river or estuary monitoring networks that can provide real time information on water quality.  Others involve use of satellite monitoring or drones to identify sources of pollution, while still others involve submersible electronic monitoring devices.

This session, the second in INECE’s webinar series on citizen science and environmental enforcement, examined how community science is used to advance water quality monitoring, examined barriers and opportunities to deploy community science in support of compliance and enforcement programs, discussed some of the new technologies available to community scientists, and reviewed some of the policy and practical implications of using community science in the context of water pollution.

LeRoy Paddock
, Visiting Scholar, ELI; Managing Director, INECE Secretariat, Moderator
Cristián Pérez Muñoz, Centro de Gestión Ambiental y Biodiversidad, Universidad de Chile
Brent Walls, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper
Diane Wilson, San Antonio Bay Estuary Riverkeeper