Overview and Outcomes
Building on our integrated suite of applications our team partnered with Chester River Association to build and deploy Chester River Watch, a web based application that allows users to explore and better understand the health of the Chester River Watershed and its tributaries. Lead by CRA staff, Chester Tester citizen scientists routinely monitor water quality at 21 tidal stations and 27 non-tidal stations from Queenstown to Millington, Maryland. CRA’s volunteer base contributes a significant number of hours to collect water quality samples that are analyzed for common indicators such as dissolved oxygen, nutrient pollution, algae, pH, and clarity. Routinely managed and analyzed over long periods of time, these data serve as a critical volunteer gathered baseline that provides insight to the health of the river. Chester Tester Citizen Scientists have been monitoring the river for more than 20 years rain or shine and this dataset represents a true connection between individuals and their local waterway.
River Watch is built using a variety of modern approaches in application design and development. The system is powered by the Commons Cloud infrastructure which provides CRA staff a simple way to keep their stations up to date and ensure that the data collected by Chester Tester volunteers are made instantly available on the web map and station pages through the Commons Cloud application programming interface (API). By CRA staff interacting with River Watch’s easy to use management tools, their data is adhering to a structured, extensible format that makes it “ready to use” in any number of applications or other workflows.
Helping volunteer monitoring programs build the necessary infrastructure to manage their data in an interoperable way increases the opportunities for that data to further restoration decision making on a broad scale. CRA uses the readings on River Watch and samples collected by its volunteers, to develop the annual Chester River Report Card, identify and mitigate pollution sources, and to strategically prioritize restoration efforts.