This blog was co-authored by Susan Tate, the EarthEcho Water Challenge Manager, and Sarah Kollar, the Outreach Manager for Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.
How do we know if water is “healthy”? When it comes to water quality, the presence of plastic pollution is a visible indicator that a particular waterway or coast is hurting. But what about the water itself? Well before our trash became an eyesore along waterways and coasts, water quality measurements such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH and turbidity (clarity of the water) have helped scientists understand how a particular marine ecosystem is fairing. Now, anyone can be the scientist and monitor a waterway by taking these measurements, helping our global community strive for trash free and clean waterways. That’s why Ocean Conservancy is teaming up with EarthEcho International to bring together World Water Monitoring Day and the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC).
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Every September 18, EarthEcho International celebrates citizen scientists around the world investigating the quality of their local waterways in honor of World Water Monitoring Day. EarthEcho International, established by explorer and advocate Philippe Cousteau, Jr., inspires young people to act now for a sustainable future with a focus on ocean health, water quality and biodiversity. Through the Water Challenge, EarthEcho International builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world. To date, this program has activated more than 1.6 million citizen scientists to monitor and protect local waterways in 146 countries. With watershed protection as a key component of the Water Challenge, EarthEcho International is excited to partner with Ocean Conservancy to highlight the connection between World Water Monitoring Day and the ICC, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this month.
Ocean Conservancy has led the fight for clean, trash free seas since 1986 when the organization launched its first annual ICC on a beach in Texas. Since then, the ICC has expanded to more than 150 countries and has mobilized more than 16 million volunteers to remove upwards of 344 million pounds of trash from beaches and waterways around the globe, all the while logging each item and building the world’s largest database on marine debris.
While ICC events this year may look different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, EarthEcho International joins Ocean Conservancy in encouraging Water Challenge participants to #CleanOn in their community with an individual or small-scale socially-distant cleanup in their neighborhood or at home by reducing waste.
Recognizing the importance of water monitoring to assess and protect ocean health, Ocean Conservancy has provided interested 2020 ICC partners with Water Challenge test kits to launch this collaboration between our organizations. These kits will be utilized by nearly 100 event leaders in 34 countries, who will then share their findings through the Water Challenge global database.
EarthEcho International and Ocean Conservancy look forward to highlighting the importance of citizen science in protecting our local waterways this September, and the continued expansion of our work together!