Without water quality monitoring data, it would be almost impossible to effectively prioritize the Coalition’s work. And long-term water quality data is crucial for detecting changes in water quality within the watershed and evaluating our improvement efforts. Although government agencies do collect some data, it is often on a 5-year cycle and typically for only on the largest bodies of water. HRWC and its army of volunteers, have been monitoring water chemistry monthly at 18 stations since 1999! Today we have a total of 55 monitoring sites and E. coli concentrations are also measured in the warmer months.
Professionally-trained staff members monitor water quality in priority watersheds like Valley River, Fires Creek, Lake Chatuge and Butternut Creek.
Certified volunteers monitor water quality monthly at many more locations throughout the upper Hiwassee River watershed.
The Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition’s volunteer monitoring program provides the opportunity for citizens to get involved in a hands-on way. Our volunteers value clean water and develop a personal connection with the streams they sample monthly. All volunteers must be certified using the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream program methods to ensure data is consistently and accurately collected. Certification workshops are offered in the spring and fall.
The data our volunteers collect monthly helps us and state agencies determine which waters need more data collection and where water quality improvements are needed in the watershed. Volunteers that conduct bacterial sampling also help reveal which waters are safe for swimming and other water-based recreation. Without volunteers many water bodies would be under-monitored or not monitored at all.
Volunteers can choose any stream they would like to sample; however, the Coalition also has identified sites in both Georgia and North Carolina where we would like to have data to help plan or monitor water quality improvement projects. Certified volunteers can check-out equipment from locations in Hiawassee, Young Harris, Blairsville and Murphy, NC. Volunteers are the heart of our monitoring program and the eyes and ears we need on ground in the upper Hiwassee River Watershed. Please contact us if you are interested in becoming a new volunteer.