The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), Monroe County developed Florida Keys Water Watch, a volunteer water quality-monitoring program to promote awareness of the importance of water quality, reduce nonpoint source pollution, and involve citizens, teachers, and students to monitor coastal habitats from man-made canals to bays and beaches. Given the compromised state of the water quality in the man-made canals and nearshore waters, it is important to inform the community and encourage responsible environmental stewardship and adopt best management practices to reduce nutrients and pollutants from entering waterways. Florida Keys Water Watch recruits and trains teachers, students, and citizens from diverse groups to become citizen scientists and collect chemical data to assess coastal habitat health. These methods are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) and volunteer data are certified following quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) protocols.
The goals of Florida Keys Water Watch are to:
- A: Raise awareness of the importance of water quality in the Florida Keys
- D: Collect baseline data to track coastal health over time
- A: Adopt best management practices to prevent nonpoint source pollution
- P: Create community partnerships between citizens and local agencies
- T: Provide tools and training for educators, students and citizens to evaluate local waterways and become environmental stewards
Florida Keys Water Watch emphasizes the connection between statewide land uses and impacts on water quality and aquatic health while providing training and water quality monitoring equipment. The A.D.A.P.T. goals are implemented by hosting 4-hour workshops throughout Monroe County to train volunteers to perform monthly chemical testing from their adopted site for dissolved oxygen, salinity, and temperature.
Contact Shelly Krueger at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to join Florida Keys Water Watch.