Firstly, why is water important? Water is essential for all life - without it plants, animals and many geological and climatic processes would not exist.
Water and river systems are also important social and economic assets of our landscape. Communities have long had significant and complex cultural and aesthetic connections to river systems. Whether 40,000 or 200 years ago, most communities have chosen to live near a riverbank.
Unfortunately, many of our river systems have become degraded. Increasing salinity, sediments, nutrients and algal blooms in our waterways are symptoms of poor historical decisions in our catchments. Both rural and urban communities have a role to play in reducing their impact on our river systems, to make sure their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will continue to enjoy the many values rivers currently provide.
Waterwatch is one program supporting local communities to take responsibility of their river systems. By monitoring water quality and biological indicators, local communities directly observe and learn about the health of their rivers and are empowered to identify problems and to take action.
Waterwatch data can provide a historical record of how river systems have changed over time, demonstrate whether remediation activities are having the desired effect, and identify emerging local issues. Waterwatch data provides a platform for community monitors to 'talk the same language' as scientists and natural resource managers so that partnerships can be formed and collaborative decisions made about local river issues.