60% More Monitored World Water in 2008

More than 73,000 people worldwide visited their local streams, rivers, lakes, and other waterbodies in celebration of World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD) in 2008, according to the program’s Year in Review report released by the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the International Water Association (IWA).

WWMD is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local waterbodies. The goal is to engage 1 million people in monitoring their local waterways by 2012.

According to a Feb. 9 press release, participants from Argentina to Zambia tested their local waterways for four key water quality indicators: dissolved oxygen (DO), pH (acidity), temperature, and turbidity (clarity). Samples were taken in a range of settings—agricultural, commercial, residential, and industrial—on six continents.

A total of 73,510 people monitored sites worldwide, which represents a 60 percent increase over participation in 2007. Some participants acted as individuals while many took part with schools, universities, civic, environmental, and faith-based groups. Data was reported from 70 countries—27 more than the 43 logged in 2007. Sites in the United States accounted for approximately 63 percent of the 5,040 monitored worldwide. After the United States, Spain (14 percent), Taiwan (3 percent), and Malaysia (2 percent) led global efforts in the number of sites monitored.

WEF and IWA acknowledged the generous financial and in-kind support in 2008 from primary sponsors including the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PerkinElmer, ITT Corporation, CH2M HILL, and Smithfield Foods.

The coordination organizations recognized the generous contributions of Procter & Gamble to the “Wash Your Hands, Save a Life” campaign, which was featured in 2008 as part of the United Nations’ “International Year of Sanitation.” Thanks to that effort, a bar of biodegradable, environmentally friendly soap and a handwashing fact sheet were included in the 14,000 water monitoring kits distributed to people in 70 countries worldwide.

World Water Monitoring Day is officially observed each year on Sept. 18. Beginning this year, the monitoring window will expand, allowing participants the flexibility to monitor and report data to the database anytime from March 22 (World Water Day) until Dec. 31. The 2008 figures reflect data submitted between Sept. 18 and Dec. 18.

For more information, visit www.WorldWaterMonitoringDay.org.