The Rivers and Forests Alliance joined 28 organizations and institutions from 10 countries on the American Continent and Spain at the end of July 2021 to create the Intercontinental Network for Community Water Quality Monitoring.
The Network’s founding members initially include representatives in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, the United States, Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela, and Spain. The Network is composed of people, organizations, and institutions that work on community monitoring of water quality, particularly those that favorably impact the integral management of watersheds.
“Generating knowledge, awareness, interest, emotion, motivation, and commitment in the communities for their streams, tributaries, rivers, and water sources will be a fundamental part of the ideology of the Network,” explained Roberto de la Ossa, President and General Director of Costa Rica National Alliance of Rivers and Watersheds, which organized the Network’s formation.
“The rivers have been the great convenors of this Network, and we believe that collaboration between the 11 participating countries can favor and shore up the work we do locally. Representatives of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Spain, the United States, and Venezuela, with a multiversity of activities, interests, and abilities, have united wills to build the identity and character of this network,” said Adriana Carolina Flores-Díaz of the Mexican Watershed Network.
Why is community monitoring of water quality interesting?
- The rivers and water in our territory matter to the people who live there. They are linked to the identity and the good life of our families and friends.
- Local territorial management capacities can be favored with new tools, and as a way of attending to the state of our watersheds, due to the many signs of deterioration they show.
- In some contexts, community monitoring can be seen as a new form of social fabric that links us again with our neighbors and other residents of the watershed, whether close or distant.
- In the face of megaprojects and land-use decisions that do not consider history, livelihoods, or local prospects for the future, monitoring is a defense tool with which we strengthen our right to decide the life we want.
- Sustainability requires environmental stewardship, and we, the neighbors who live close to or far from rivers, can be aware of the signs of the watershed’s health.
- We want living and free rivers – they are not water pipes – and this possibility becomes real in every locality, from the community’s voices to the institutional spaces of government.
- We want to collaborate with others, learn from others, teach others, and build with others accompanying us in this socio-natural transformation.
Special recognition goes to the Global Water Watch program of the University of Auburn, Alabama, which has 30 years of community monitoring and promoting stewardship of watersheds. GWW joins the Intercontinental Network for Community Water Quality Monitoring initiative, along with 27 other institutions and organizations.
This story first appeared on the Costa Rica National Alliance of Rivers and Watersheds and the Mexican Watershed Network websites.