Where can citizens and regional watershed groups working to protect local streams and creeks go to get the most up to date information about the health of their watershed? The NC Watershed Stewardship Network (NCWSN) currently has the most comprehensive database of watershed organizations and programs in North Carolina. Plans are underway to make that information easily accessible and sharable with the public through the development of an interactive web tool. The UNC Institute for the Environment recently received funding from UNC’s Water in Our World initiative to develop the first phase of the web tool that will allow watershed groups throughout the state to enter information about their organization and promote their work, events and volunteer needs.
The web tool will also allow citizens to view detailed data to learn more about the water quality status of the creeks and streams in their watershed. “Anyone will be able to get on the site and retrieve information about their watershed by simply clicking on a map,” said Michele Drostin, co-coordinator of the NCWSN. Development of the web tool is being assisted by the NC Division of Water Resources, which will provide summary information for each watershed so that any user can quickly read a summary or “story” about their watershed. For those who are interested in getting more detailed data, links to the state website will be provided.
A unique feature of the web tool will be the ability for any watershed group to enter information that will both allow others to learn about the organization’s activities but will also, over time, allow that organization to add watershed data to the site. George Matthis, co-founder and president of the River Guardian Foundation, said that the development of the web tool will create new possibilities for watershed groups to connect with each other across the state. Matthis said, “The web tool will strengthen the ability of local watershed groups to protect the health of streams across North Carolina.”