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You Can Help Keep Our Local Waters Clean

May 6, 2013 by admin

The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) of Northwest Florida State College is a local watershed organization committed to sustaining and providing optimum utilization of the Choctawhatchee Basin watershed.

We fulfill our commitment by working within four main program areas: monitoring, restoration, education, and research. This means we are constantly studying, learning, and sharing information about Choctawhatchee Bay, Choctawhatchee River, and Walton County’s coastal dune lakes.

In the past several years, CBA has conducted limited studies about bacteria in our local waters. These studies were time-limited and small in scope due to funding limitations. CBA does conduct routine monthly water quality monitoring at over 100 stations—with the help of many dedicated volunteers!

However, this work does not include bacteria testing. We collect data describing nutrient levels and basic water chemistry.  We monitor the following parameters: total nitrogen, total phosphorus, chlorophyll, water clarity, temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, salinity, dissolved oxygen saturation, turbidity. Bacteria testing is an important component of water quality assessment, but it is typically cost-prohibitive. CBA does not have the funding to support a bacteria monitoring program at this time.

As part of the NRDA process in response to the Gulf oil spill, CBA has suggested that a local water quality laboratory be established here in Walton County. This proposed lab would be able to support CBA’s existing monthly sampling program (by analyzing samples locally instead of sending them to the University of Florida as we currently do), AND address additional questions and concerns regarding our local water resources (e.g., bacteria monitoring, sedimentation issues, etc.).

We hope to go beyond simply identifying problems and move toward determining potential cause(s) and appropriate restorative actions. If you remain concerned about water quality issues in Walton County, please tell your County Commissioner! Money will be coming into Walton County from NRDA and the RESTORE Act, and water quality can be a priority for this funding if citizens make it so.

You can learn more about CBA’s volunteer water quality monitoring program on our website at http://www.basinalliance.org. If you’re interested in participating, please contact Sarah Kalinoski at kalinoss@nwfsc.edu or 850-517-6843. You can also learn more about CBA’s activities and support our programs by liking us on Facebook: ww.facebook.com/basinalliance.

- Sarah Kalinoski, Grant Coordinator, Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance

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