First Annual SWAMP Bi-County Conference

SWAMP students at Vigor High test water samples

SWAMP students at Vigor High test water samples

(Fairhope, Ala.) - Please join us on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Weeks Bay Resource Center for our first Strategic Watershed Awareness and Monitoring Program (SWAMP) Bi-County Conference. During this conference students from five area high schools – Alma Bryant, Citronelle, LeFlore, Vigor, and Fairhope – will be presenting their watershed projects. We will have a welcome and introductions from 10:00-10:30, followed by the students giving poster presentations (exhibitor style). There will be a short film and a catered lunch from L.A. Barbeque.

The students participating in the program are trained by Mobile Baykeeper staff to be water quality monitors through Alabama Water Watch (AWW). They travel monthly with Mobile Baykeeper SWAMP staff and their science teachers to five water-based sites around their schools collecting water samples and picking up litter. They measure pH, dissolved oxygen, bacteria, etc.

This year, students at each school chose one site in their watershed that had a particular issue or problem. The culminating event is the SWAMP Bi-County Conference, where they will share their solutions with each of the other schools in the program.

Each school is funded by a different grant. The funding for this conference comes from Fairhope High's grantor, NOAA B-WET. The event will be held at the Weeks Bay Resource Center, 11525 US-98, Fairhope, AL 36532. 

We believe educating citizens and students on the importance of a healthy watershed and how their actions can impact water quality is vitally important, and we also believe many citizens want to take action to protect their watershed but are unsure how to do so. To meet this need, we created the Strategic Watershed Awareness and Monitoring Program (SWAMP).

SWAMP begins by educating participants on the role and importance of watersheds. The initial presentation covers watershed basics, threats to water quality, the importance of clean water to our environment, economy, and quality of life, and how concerned citizens can safeguard our precious water resources.

After the educational component, interested individuals are trained and certified as water quality monitors using  Alabama Water Watch's (AWW) EPA-approved methodology. Monitors choose a site on a local waterbody and begin monitoring at least monthly. The results of the monitoring provide valuable data to understand more about our local water resources and what threats may be facing them. If poor water quality or pollution problems are identified, Mobile Baykeeper will work with the monitor(s) and relevant stakeholders to find a solution.

Water quality monitoring data is uploaded into the Alabama Water Watch database and into the Water Rangers web tool where information on water quality trends is available to anyone. Thanks to grants from AM/NS Calvert and the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, the Water Rangers web tool also allows users to gain points and badges, filter the map by different parameters, visualize watershed boundaries, and report pollution as it is identified throughout local waterways. 

Please join us tomorrow at at the Weeks Bay Resource Center (11525 US-98, Fairhope, AL 36532). From 10:15-10:45 we'll have the welcome and guest speakers, including the students, and the poster presentations from 10:45-11:45.   

To learn more about Mobile Baykeeper’s SWAMP, visit our site or call 251-433-4229.