The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water Benjamin H. Grumbles, 150 students and more than 100 guests joined the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the International Water Association (IWA) on Sept. 18, 2008, to kick off activities for World Water Monitoring Day 2008 at Hains Point in Washington, D.C.
Held annually between Sept. 18 and Oct. 18, the World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD) program builds public awareness and involvement in protecting global water resources by engaging communities from around the world in monitoring the condition of local rivers, streams, estuaries and other water bodies. WEF and IWA, the program’s coordinators, anticipate participation from more than 50,000 individuals in more than 50 countries this year.
“World Water Monitoring Day is about reconnecting people to their watersheds,” Grumbles said in his opening remarks. “Think globally; test locally.”
EPA, the U.S. Geological Survey, Perkin Elmer Instruments, ITT Corp., CH2M HILL and Smithfield Foods are sponsors of the program.
During the month-long monitoring period, local water bodies are tested for a core set of water quality parameters including temperature, acidity (pH), clarity (turbidity) and dissolved oxygen (DO). Participants have until December to report results, which are then put into an international database and summarized on the program's website.
WEF and IWA encourage citizens and organizations to get involved in hopes of raising awareness of the value of clean water and its relationship to public health and the environment. “We take it as an article of faith that there are problems in the world, but they can be solved. World Water Monitoring Day is one way of solving them,” said WEF President Adam Zabinski.
Ase Johannessen, development program officer for IWA, spoke to the international aspects of the program: “WWMD connects people of five different continents. We all have a vision of the water environment irrespective of our religion, nationality or culture. WWMD really symbolizes something profound. We’re now working to spread it in numbers and geography.”
During the Sept. 18 event, students from Kimball Elementary School (Washington, D.C.), Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community Day School (Reisterstown, Md.) and Hebrew Day School (Silver Spring, Md.) performed tests on the Potomac River and visited two-dozen educational and interactive displays on a number of water quality issues. Participating organizations included the Alice Ferguson Foundation, Amazon Conservation Team, District Department of the Environment, City of Alexandria Environmental Policy Commission, CH2M HILL, DC Water and Sewer Authority, Earth Conservation Corps, Earth Day Network, Girl Scouts of the Nation's Capital, International Year of the Reef, Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, Jewish National Fund, LaMotte Co., National Environmental Education Foundation, Naturalist Audubon Society, Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Potomac Conservancy, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Water Environment Association.
For more information about how your community can become involved, visit www.worldwatermonitoringday.com.
Source: Water Environment Federation, International Water Association