Mainstem Network: A Social Space for Water Quality Monitoring

Members of the community water science sector now have a centralized and collaborative space for all things community water quality monitoring: the Mainstem Network.
Mainstem Network
June 21, 2022
Mainstem Network: A Social Space for Water Quality Monitoring

Members of the community water science sector now have a centralized and collaborative space for all things community water quality monitoring: the Mainstem Network. The Water Data Collaborative launched the Mainstem Network to foster information sharing, community building, and data amplification across all community science initiatives. 

In the discipline of hydrology, the mainstem is the primary downstream segment of a river. It is often the largest river or channel in a watershed. We chose to name our social network after this hydrological phenomenon because it embodies what we can collectively achieve for community science monitoring by coming together: a collecting place to connect, support and grow the community science monitoring community. Mainstem rivers are fed from streams and tributaries meeting each other and creating new waterways - the same holds true in the WDC’s Mainstem Network. Individual community science programs simultaneously operate in siloed efforts and contribute to larger and broader initiatives, when all networks and champions are convened in one place, there is nothing to do but get carried away by the current of change.

What is the Mainstem Network?

The Mainstem Network is a core service offered by the Water Data Collaborative and is hosted at The Commons. The goal of the Network is to use the collective knowledge across everyone contributing to community science water monitoring efforts to amplify the impact of community science data on addressing water issues. You, the individuals building incredible monitoring programs on waterbodies worldwide, are encouraged to bring your knowledge and your needs to this network. The Mainstem network is built for you as a safe harbor or reservoir for you to connect, share, question, and grow. 

The service is only as powerful as the members who join, so let’s dive into who we built this service for and how you can best take advantage of it. 

Who can join the Mainstem Network?

We encourage anyone associated with community science water monitoring to join. Whether you’ve been monitoring for ten years or plan to start in ten days, you are welcome to join. 

Are you an expert at creating study design that follows FAIR and CARE data principles? Our network will benefit from your expertise! 

Do you oversee regional networks? Build a group in Mainstem to share resources, plans, and future goals. 

Do you identify as a technical service provider with tools for building study designs or QAPPS, data management software, application development, or data aggregation platforms where monitors can share their data, please sign up and look for opportunities to engage with this community. We invite you to join this network as well. 

Do you deploy sensors? Join and help answer system questions about use cases. 

Do you have funding to broaden the impact of these groups, please, sign up to join the conversation and help finance the impact of these monitoring efforts.

What can I do in the Mainstem Network?

The Network is a value-add to your list of tools to improve the impact of your monitoring program. Once you’ve joined the network you can:

  1. Pose questions to the entire Mainstem community on the main feed.
Mainstem main feed allows members to start conversations.
Mainstem main feed invites users to start or join conversations.

  1. Add your monitoring program to the index to show where you monitor and what you monitor for. Use this to build connections to other efforts.
Explore or add a program to the Monitoring Program Index.
Explore or add a program to the Monitoring Program Index.

  1. Post opportunities and solicitations for other members to discover such as job or contract opportunities and funding requests.
Opportunities provide a space for members to post and search jobs, needs, and funding opportunities.

  1. Create and join Networks to facilitate easier sharing of documentation, program planning, network building, and conversation development.
Use Networks to create a public or private group
Mainstem Groups invite Networks to create a space for sharing and communication

How do I join?

Request a membership here. You will need to enter in your name, work email, sector, affiliation, and which components of the WDC framework most align with your work. You can choose more than one! Look here to familiarize yourself with the WDC framework. Your request should be approved within 24 hours, but feel free to reach out to with any questions.

Make a splash in the Network

We have a few recommend first steps to take once you join:

  1. Complete your personal profile
  2. Add your organization to the system if it’s not already there.
  3. Introduce yourself in the main feed, tell us one item from your monitoring program that has demanded a lot of your attention lately.
  4. Add your monitoring program to the index for others to discover.

Keep the conversation going

You don’t need to visit daily, but come back from time to time. Learn how others are operating and share your monitoring program successes. 

Ambitious Mainstem goals

The WDC believes that when we pool our knowledge and our needs we can create incredible stories and outcomes from community science data. In our first year, we hope to welcome 500 members of the community monitoring sector onto this platform and 100 organizations. We cannot do it alone, just like we cannot help every group achieve data success singlehandedly. Join, invite your colleagues and your partners, and let’s showcase how powerful community science is to moving the needle on water quality issues across the US and around the world . 

More about Water Data Collaborative

The Water Data Collaborative is a multi-stakeholder effort to assist community science monitoring programs in using best available data management practices and tools to build robust programs that can move the needle on water quality issues. For many years we have  tested out our theory of change that well-designed monitoring programs that follow FAIR data standards can inform water policy and advocate for the communities reliant on each water source. Now entering our fourth year, we have begun to systematize our offerings. Along with opening up the Mainstem Network, we are looking to grow our library of novel and existing training materials, connect study design experts to regional initiatives, and build up funding opportunities for WDC Members. 

To learn more about how you and your network can take full advantage of the Mainstem Network or other WDC offerings, reach out to the WDC Coordinator, Robbie O'Donnell.