Sierra Club Water Sentinels
Sierra Club Water Sentinels are the first line of defense of America's waters. Water Sentinels work to protect, improve and restore our waters by fostering alliances to promote water quality monitoring, public education and citizen action.
Keeping Watch on the Verde
Posted by: Scott Dye on July 15, 2010 at 10:51PM PST
ALL HAIL Arizona Sentinel Steve Pawlowski for this good primer on the work of our Arizona Sentinels.
Keeping Watch on the Verde River: The Water Sentinels
By Steve Pawlowski
Who are the Water Sentinels?
Water Sentinels are volunteers interested in hands-on conservation work to protect Arizona’s rivers and streams. We’re part of the national Sierra Club Water Sentinels program, whose mission is to protect, improve, and restore the nation’s waters by fostering partnerships to promote water quality monitoring, public education, and citizen action to protect local watersheds.
What do the Arizona Water Sentinels do?
Since December 2006, the Sentinels have been going to the Verde River every other month to measure water quality parameters such as pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and total dissolved solids concentrations. We collect water samples to determine concentrations of E. coli bacteria, arsenic, total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and suspended sediment in the water.
We also monitor the base flow in the upper Verde River. We are developing baseline data on how much base flow there is and whether changes are occurring in the amount of flow over time. Sentinels organize clean-ups, work to restore riparian areas, and train volunteers on monitoring procedures and protocols.
We’re active on the water policy front. Sentinels participate on a steering group working to develop a Wild & Scenic River nomination for a 48-mile reach of the upper Verde River.
Finally, we encourage Arizonans to get out there and enjoy our state’s beautiful rivers and streams by hiking, paddling, fishing, bird watching, wildlife viewing, and nature photography.
Where do Water Sentinels work in Arizona?
The Water Sentinels have been working primarily on the Verde River, which was identified by American Rivers as one of the nation’s 10 most endangered rivers in 2006. Sentinels routinely go to six different sampling sites on the Verde between its source springs near Paulden and Camp Verde to monitor water quality. Flow measurements are taken at two of these sites.
The Sentinels are taking their first steps beyond the Verde River and have begun to work on other waterways in Arizona. For example, for the past year we have been working in an urban watershed on a project to remove buffelgrass, an invasive species, from the Rio Salado Restoration Area along the Salt River near downtown Phoenix (see pg. 7). We’re also recruiting in the Sedona area to volunteer time and talent to protect Oak Creek and its watershed (see pg. 9).
Why do Water Sentinels volunteer?
Water is life. Arizona’s remaining perennial rivers and streams are precious resources that deserve protection. Some Sentinels volunteer because they are passionate about a specific stream such as the Verde River. Others have seen too many Arizona rivers reduced to bone-dry washes through impoundments, diversions, and groundwater pumping or have seen them degraded by pollution. The Sentinels are dedicated to protecting our remaining rivers and streams and restoring those that have been harmed.
Steve is the Chapter’s Water Sentinels Program Coordinator.
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