New Technologies for Rapid Water Quality and Bioassessment of Agricultural Streams by Citizen Scientists

EPA Grant Number: SU835518
Title: New Technologies for Rapid Water Quality and Bioassessment of Agricultural Streams by Citizen Scientists
Investigators: Durtsche, Richard , McCombs, Brad , Steinitz-Kannan, Miriam
Current Investigators: Durtsche, Richard , Rice, Alexus , McCombs, Brad , Frost, Joshua , Guerrero, Josue , Moses, Julie , Walker, Madeline , Steinitz-Kannan, Miriam , Shields, Nathan
Institution: Northern Kentucky University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2013 through August 14, 2014
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Sustainable and Healthy Communities , P3 Challenge Area - Safe and Sustainable Water Resources , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


The goals of this P3 grant are to create mobile technologies and training for 4-12 students, STEM undergraduates, and citizen scientists in the collection of credible data that can be databased for public purpose use by citizens, educators, and scientists alike in the bioassessment of headwater and wadeable streams. The abundance of watershed streams potentially impacted by agricultural runoff, the inability of agency personnel to bioassess the quality of all streams, and the educational opportunities for students and the willingness of citizen science organizations to assist in this process provides for a productive collaboration. The current concern is to increase the credibility of the data collected by citizen science or educational groups, and for the storage of such data for use by the public.


This P3 grant will stimulate the innovation and expansion of a recently developed macro-invertebrate bioassessment mobile app to quantify the evaluation of water quality parameters, and support the sustained development of such technologies through testing and quality control for use by non-agency people (e.g., students, citizen scientists) on a global basis. In conjunction with research and development of this app and a credibility “smart” filter, the P3 grant will establish a web active database for storage of credible data that can be accessed by scientists, educational, citizen science groups, and the public on a global basis. In addition, video demos and training workshops will be established (in both English and Spanish) to ensure students and citizen scientists world wide have a complete command of the instrumentation and software interface. This grant will also provide a lead into the development of two additional stream bioassessment apps (one for algae and bacteria, and the other for fish) and subsequent training. These mobile technologies, while originally developed for use with research, education, or community engagement of environmental sustainability, eventually stimulate product lines of small businesses that focus on environmental monitoring or sustainable use of the environment in both developed and developing countries around the world.

Expected Results:

Use of this mobile app with it’s “smart” filter and website to rapidly bioassess the water quality from streams and produce credible data by citizen scientists can be an asset to public awareness of alteration of the water and these aquatic systems, facilitate pollution prevention and control when used by the public. This technology can expand the coverage of area, and the voluntary workforce available to monitor impacts of agricultural pollutants and stream alteration while improving the scientific literacy of the public involved. Furthermore, education of the public is the ideal long-term solution to pollution prevention and control at a local level expanded to a global scale

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 4 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Environmental Education, Water Pollution, iPhone/iPad;

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report