The Citizens Environmental Monitoring Program (CEMP)
Since 1998, the Anchorage Waterways Council’s Monitoring Program has trained over 300 volunteer monitors to collect baseline, water-quality data which is used to identify water quality trends and detect pollution. Volunteer monitors collect a wide array of chemical and physical data from 25 stationary creek sites, representing 11 watersheds in the Municipality of Anchorage. Without this valuable information, the ability to properly manage and protect water resources is diminished. Additionally, volunteers spend about 40 hours every year becoming familiar with their creeks, and in the process become creeks advocates.
The volunteer monitors test surface water samples to obtain quantitative physical and chemical data including: water temperature, turbidity (clarity), pH, dissolved oxygen (DO), water color, conductivity, total dissolved solids (TDS), and bacteria (E. coli & total coliform).
The data collected by our volunteers will be available to the public and all resource agencies as soon as we have finished rebuilding our database. Please check with us now to see what we might have.
CEMP volunteers come from all sectors of society: bankers, students, environmental consultants, construction workers, retired seniors, small business owners, resource agency employees, university personnel, and home-makers. They are all residents who care about local water quality and are willing to protect it.
These dedicated individuals commit to a year of monitoring and frequently endure extreme Alaska weather and other discomforts. Mosquitoes, cold, heat, and wildlife are just a few of the elements they work around to collect water samples. For many this is an opportunity to give something back to the environment that they enjoy; for others it is a way to instill stewardship in their children; and some just like to play in the water.
Whatever the reason our volunteers come to us, we appreciate and know that without them CEMP would not be as successful.
CEMP has five phases of training available to volunteers. Volunteer monitors must complete Phase I-III before becoming a certified monitor. Phase I introduces ideas and concepts while demonstrating the use of chemical water quality kits. Phase II familiarizes the monitor with kits and works on the understanding of principles and methods used. The final phase for monitoring, Phase III, is practice in the field and proficiency by monitors in the use of the kits. Completing Phases I-III typically takes about 12 hours.
After completing Phase I-III and monitoring for one year, volunteer monitors are required to participate in a recertification (Phase IV). This phase acts as a quality control check of monitors. Monitors test against known standards and review methods.
Phase V is a Train the Trainers course. In this phase, participants must demonstrate proficiency in testing methods, knowledge of watershed concepts, and familiarity with teaching methods. Upon completion of this phase, volunteers become certified trainers and are then able to train new monitors to work with the kits.