2000 Progress Report: Enhancement of Environmental Communication in the Lower Great Miami River Basin: A Pilot DemonstrationEPA Grant Number: R827091
Title: Enhancement of Environmental Communication in the Lower Great Miami River Basin: A Pilot Demonstration
Investigators: Hammond, Scott A.
Institution: Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: November 1, 1998 through October 31, 2000 (Extended to August 28, 2002)
Project Period Covered by this Report: November 1, 1999 through October 31, 2000
Project Amount: $475,000
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (1998) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water , Sustainability , Air , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Environmental Statistics
Objective:The Miami Valley River Index Project aims to increase the accessibility and understanding of information related to the water quality of the Lower Great Miami River Basin. River quality and flow stage data are gathered through a network of in-stream electronic probes located at six stations along portions of the Great Miami, Mad, and Stillwater Rivers and Wolf Creek. Data collected are periodically transmitted to a computer database where a River Index (RI) is calculated and distributed via the Web and other media outlets to provide understandable water quality information to the public.
Progress Summary:Monitoring Component (Miami Conservancy District/ Wright State University). Preliminary summer and fall 1999 data collection activities were ceased over the winter. The monitoring equipment was left in the stations over the winter. The harsh winter weather conditions, including ice formation in the stilling wells, caused significant degradation of some equipment that required maintenance in spring 2000. All six stations went online at the end of May 2000, and successfully collected data that were incorporated into the RI all summer. Sporadic technical glitches caused data collection to cease at several stations during the season. Causes of malfunctions included phone service outages, mistimed computer and sonde communication protocols, low water levels, and algae and debris buildup on equipment. The monitoring equipment was removed from the stations in October 2000 to avoid the maintenance problems encountered the first winter.
Information Management Component (CH2M HILL). The preliminary data collected in 1999 were used to adjust the RI calculation ranges and weightings for the 2000 season. Preliminary data showed that some data parameters such as pH had very low variability and could be weighted low. Dissolved oxygen was considered the most important parameter and was given the highest weighting of 3. Flow also was important and was weighted as a 2. Some changes to parameters were made to measure more appropriate pollutants and accommodate the laboratory availability at Wright State University (WSU). The pesticide parameter was switched from 2,4-D to chlorpyrifos. The Web site design and function also was finalized. CH2M HILL was the lead in designing the Web site, and programmed all the server procedures needed to collect the remote monitoring data, process the calculation, and deliver the RI to the Web. Each of the partner organizations contributed static content for the site.
Communication Component (City of Dayton). The communication component focus in 2000 was on raising the profile of the RI among the general public. Another goal was to reach key decisionmakers in the region who may be able to contribute to long-term sustainability. Activities ranged from graphics production and advertising to presentations to key groups. At the end of 1999, one project partner, the Miami Conservancy District (MCD), expressed a desire to establish the RI on its own URL (www.miamivalleywater.org), and possibly sustain the RI in the future. The partners agreed to promote both the www.riverindex.org and the www.miamivalleywater.org URLs. Early in 2000, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) worked with Dayton Daily News graphics personnel to finalize the graphic and layout of the RI in the newspaper. A "happy fish" mascot was developed with an RI sign and a map that was used to display the RI at the approximate location of each station. City of Dayton staff designed, procured, and distributed a variety of publicity materials, including pens, coasters, magnets, can koozies, and brochures. Billboards on Miami Valley Regional Transit Authority buses also were established. The partners made RI presentations to a variety of public groups and potential partner agencies in 2000. To measure citizen attitudes and behaviors regarding rivers and the RI, a presurvey of random Montgomery County residents was performed by WSU in 1999 prior to the launch of the RI. In September 2000, WSU performed a post survey to test if the RI impacted citizen attitudes. Some minor positive changes were identified The overall results suggested that with more public exposure, the RI could have more impact on citizen attitudes.