Members of the Smith Lake Civic Association in Walker County, Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy and the Smith Lake Environmental Preservation Committee in Cullman County met Saturday at the Smith Lake Civic Center in Curry for a “State of the …
Members of the Smith Lake Civic Association in Walker County, Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy and the Smith Lake Environmental Preservation Committee in Cullman County met Saturday at the Smith Lake Civic Center in Curry for a “State of the Lake” meeting.
Around 90 people attended the meeting and listened as Eric Reutebuch, the director of Alabama Water Watch and the Auburn University Water Resources Center, presented a PowerPoint presentation on the Alabama Water Watch Program and the latest environmental reports regarding the quality of the water in Lewis Smith Lake.
“Smith Lake is one of the cleanest lakes in Alabama, and we have the data to prove that, thanks to the folks who volunteer with the Alabama Water Watch Program on Smith Lake,” Reutebuch said. “Our (AWW) program is based at Auburn, but we go all over the state training people how to test the water in their communities. In fact, we held a training session here at the Smith Lake Civic Center on Friday, and we now have 12 new water monitors on Smith Lake, which is wonderful.”
Reutebuch said the Alabama Water Watch program was established in 1992 and is a citizen volunteer water quality monitoring program, which covers all of the major river basins in Alabama, and is a national model for citizen involvement in watershed stewardship, largely because of its three interrelated components: citizen monitoring groups, a university-based program and a nonprofit association.
“Our mission is to improve both the water quality and water policy through citizen monitoring and action,” Reutebuch said. “We use EPA-approved monitoring plans with a community-based approach to train citizens to monitor the conditions and trends of their local bodies of water.”
Through the AWW “data-to-action” focus, AWW helps volunteers collect, analyze and understand the data so they can make positive impacts in their communities.
“Our vision is to have a citizen monitor on every body of water in Alabama, and our goal is to foster the development of statewide water quality monitoring by educating citizens about water issues in Alabama and the world,” Reutebuch said. “We train our volunteers to use standardized equipment and techniques to gather credible water information and empower them to use that data to protect and restore their local waters.”
Reutebuch said a number of AWW volunteers on Smith Lake have conducted bacteria, biological and chemical tests on Smith Lake and the data they collected showed that Lewis Smith Lake is one of the cleanest lakes in Alabama.
“The data collected by the AWW volunteers is very close to the data shown on ADEM’s 2014 Water Quality Report, which is their most recent report,” Reutebuch said. “Lewis Smith Lake is listed near the bottom of the Trophic State Index Chart for lakes in Alabama. And that’s where you want to be, at the bottom on the clean lake side, because that shows how clean your lake is.”
The Trophic State Index Chart is used for the determination of the trophic state of lakes during the summer months. Lakes with a TSI of 70 or greater are generally considered to be in need of regulatory action appropriate for protection and restoration.
Smith Lake’s TSI is below 40.
“The TSI also relates to the amount of nutrients in the lake, which causes the lake to be more clearer,” Reutebuch said. “We currently have 13 active monitoring sites on Smith Lake where we collect data on the water quality on Smith Lake. And we’re hoping that number will continue to grow.”
Anyone interested in becoming a certified water monitor volunteer for the Alabama Water Watch program can visit www.alabamawaterwatch.org for more information.