River Watch
Citizen Monitoring Program

River Watch is a citizen based water quality monitoring program organized and delivered by the International Water Institute and its partners throughout the Red River Basin. The Red Lake Watershed District is one such partner. River Watch volunteers are drawn from more than 35 high schools and various community groups to monitor the quality of water in the streams and rivers in the Red River Basin and to report the findings at local and state levels.

Program Objectives

  • Develop a 'sense of place' and connection to the local watershed.
  • Learn field-based physical and biological ambient water quality monitoring skills.
  • Establish connections to scientists engaged in watershed science.
  • Become active contributors to the scientific community.
  • Develop workplace skills.
  • Provide important services to the local watershed.

Program Features

Quality Control: Proper training, oversight, and coordination are ongoing basic services of the River Watch Citizen Monitoring Program to ensure quality data are being generated for uses in resource management, public education, and academic resources.

Data Management: Data are stored in Excel spreadsheets. The information is shared with local resource managers and entered into the EPA's STORET database. All data from River Watch sources, SWCDs, watershed agencies, and state/federal sources are pooled into acentral database for easy access and basic analysis.

Youth Forum: River Watch students from each school can attend annual River Watch Forums to present displays of their sampling program and share oral presentations with their peers and local resource managers that highlight the past year's monitoring results.

Communications: River Watch groups prepare news releases that convey basic information about their monitoring results, and they deliver presentations about land and water stewardship to local agencies and community groups.

Real-world Competencies

River Watch is a program with real-world relevance that challenges students to develop skills and discipline that will carry over to college and the workplace.

Thinking Skills: Creative thinking, problem solving, decision-making based on best scientific practices.

Personal Qualities: Establish a personal ethic, responsibility, integrity for self, and understand societal impacts on the watershed.

Technology: Operate and maintain technology tools used in the field.

Information: Gather, organize, interpret, and present data to community decision makers.

Interpersonal Skills: Work as members of a scientific team, teach skills to others, and serve as leaders in their watershed.