Editor’s comments from the current issue of Stormwater
Have you ever managed a group of volunteers for some job-related effort—perhaps collecting water quality samples or applying labels to local storm drains? It can be rewarding and incredibly frustrating at the same time. Volunteers come in all ages, from elementary school groups to college students to senior citizens, and with a wide range of experience, from graduate-level training to exactly no experience. Frankly, some are more committed to the task than others. But there are a few ways to make the experience easier and more satisfying for everyone.
The article, Meters, Metrics, and People Power, in this issue includes several examples of volunteers working with stormwater monitoring programs. The type of equipment available for them to use is a big factor in how well things go. In general, simple, robust tools—which are abundant on the market these days—are essential, and as some of the people interviewed point out, it often helps to have a multitasker. “In other programs, we have had to use several pieces of equipment to monitor the various parameters,” notes Alev Bilginsoy, who leads groups of volunteers with a watershed council in California. The sheer variety of instruments, the time needed to learn how to use each one, and even the inconvenience of carrying several pieces of hardware from place to place made the whole process less effi cient, she says, but a multiparameter sonde has helped. Now, instead of spending so much time on logistics, she says, “we can have the conversation about what dissolved oxygen means and what the conductivity readings mean.”
A professor of environmental studies who works with groups of college students on monitoring projects adds that autonomous operation is a plus. “Here’s the nice thing about loggers: they sit out there collecting data all day long,” she says. “Students tend to graduate before the projects get finished.”Costs are rising, supplies are dwindling and the clock is ticking. Explore solutions and new ways to collaborate by joining your colleagues in San Diego next February at the Western Water Summit. Click here for details