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Pennsylvania has a rich history of grassroots volunteer water monitoring. A survey by Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Citizens' Volunteer Monitoring Program (CVMP) indicates that there are at least 138 groups comprising 11,000 individuals who collectively spend more than 1,000,000 annually on monitoring activities. This paper explores the makeup of these groups as well as the rationale behind their formation and sustained activity. A number of the community based monitoring groups has gone beyond water quality monitoring to restoration activities. This paper also relates the goals and activities of the CVMP, which was initiated in 1996, to the goals and needs of the community based monitoring groups. Some of the actions taken by the CVMP to meet the needs of local groups include: the formation of a statewide network to support and guide the volunteer monitoring movement; an extensive training program tailored to individual group's goals and the coordination of a statewide “Watershed Snapshot”. It has also partnered with the Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement, the Pennsylvania Senior Environment Corps and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging on the organization of a stream monitoring program with standardized protocols and a quality assurance project plan for senior citizens. The CVMP has prepared a handbook for community based monitoring. The handbook is unique in that it does not prescribe standardized protocols for all. Instead it advocates the use of study design and a choice of monitoring methods appropriate to meet the goals of the individual group. The role of community based water monitoring in state assessments will also be explored.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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