Citizen Scientists May Be an Untapped Resource for Water Quality Improvement


Citizen scientists can play a needed role in keeping an eye on water quality, according a team of researchers.

Raising awareness and offering technological tools to the thousands of citizens groups in the U.S. that monitor water quality might help community leaders tap these volunteers as a way to improve access to plentiful, clean water and possibly avoid water-related crises, according to a team of researchers.

The team studied the water quality monitoring practices of more than a dozen citizen groups and university and government organizations in Centre County, where Penn State’s University Park campus is located. The 13 water groups the team studied included ClearWater Conservancy, Centre County Pennsylvania Senior Environmental Corps, and the Spring Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

“These programs are important, they are important to the people who take part in the programs, and they’re important to the public,” said John Carroll, distinguished professor of information sciences and technology and an associate of the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences. “However, the work is not very visible. We wondered, how could we help to make this important work more visible, which might make it more effective, even more fun, and improve recruiting efforts and sustainability?”


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