Event Title

Using Citizen Science to Locate Nutrient Sources and Foster Community Connection in the Utah Lake Watershed

Presenter Information

Erin Jones

Location

Logan Golf & Country Club, Logan, UT

Start Date

3-26-2019 5:00 PM

End Date

3-26-2019 7:00 PM

Description

Excess nutrients have created eutrophic conditions in 2/3rds of freshwater ecosystems. Two major factors impede restoring these compromised ecosystems. First, nutrient transport through river networks is extremely variable in space and time due to large swings in water flow, biological activity, and human disturbance. Second, a lack of public engagement with water quality issues reduces sociopolitical motivation to implement best practices. To address these issues together, we organized a large participatory science project in the 10,000 km2 Utah Lake watershed, which is listed as impaired for excess total phosphorus and dissolved solids. We collaborated with several hundred members of the public and K-12 and university students to sample ~250 sites three-times in 2018. We analyzed this rich spatiotemporal dataset to identify critical source areas, quantify spatial stability of water chemistry, and assess human and natural risk factors for eutrophication. We conclude that citizen science can extend scientific observation and fundamentally change public awareness and mentality, which subsequently influences how water resources are managed. In this sense, participatory water quality monitoring is not only a means of generating understanding of how water and nutrients propagate through catchments; it is a mechanism to improve water quality itself and encourage sustainable stewardship.

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Mar 26th, 5:00 PM Mar 26th, 7:00 PM

Using Citizen Science to Locate Nutrient Sources and Foster Community Connection in the Utah Lake Watershed

Logan Golf & Country Club, Logan, UT

Excess nutrients have created eutrophic conditions in 2/3rds of freshwater ecosystems. Two major factors impede restoring these compromised ecosystems. First, nutrient transport through river networks is extremely variable in space and time due to large swings in water flow, biological activity, and human disturbance. Second, a lack of public engagement with water quality issues reduces sociopolitical motivation to implement best practices. To address these issues together, we organized a large participatory science project in the 10,000 km2 Utah Lake watershed, which is listed as impaired for excess total phosphorus and dissolved solids. We collaborated with several hundred members of the public and K-12 and university students to sample ~250 sites three-times in 2018. We analyzed this rich spatiotemporal dataset to identify critical source areas, quantify spatial stability of water chemistry, and assess human and natural risk factors for eutrophication. We conclude that citizen science can extend scientific observation and fundamentally change public awareness and mentality, which subsequently influences how water resources are managed. In this sense, participatory water quality monitoring is not only a means of generating understanding of how water and nutrients propagate through catchments; it is a mechanism to improve water quality itself and encourage sustainable stewardship.