A Transferable Model of Stakeholder Partnerships for Addressing Nutrient Dynamics in Southeastern Watersheds – The Tallapoosa Watershed Project
The 3-year Tallapoosa Watershed Project (TWP), a USDA/CSREES-funded project, began in Alabama in 2003 to better understand nutrient loading in a large river basin. The TWP was implemented by partners from universities, citizen groups, schools, the extension system and the environmental regulatory agency, so that research findings would be appropriately extended to classrooms, the general public and policy makers. Forty-five sites on two reservoirs, and eleven tributaries were sampled for two years using standard methods of field and laboratory analyses. Citizen volunteers and researchers concurrently used EPA-approved “water watch” techniques, Standard Methods, two types of hand-held spectroradiometers and satellite imagery to directly or indirectly analyze water for nutrients. The comparative advantages of each monitoring approach were evaluated to determine an optimal mix of technologies for measuring, modeling and managing nutrients. An aquatic science curriculum called Living Streams was developed and piloted in several schools to teach biomonitoring and the impact of nutrients on aquatic life. A TWP website ( www.twp.auburn.edu ), sponsored exhibits at an environmental education center and an annual “State of Our Watershed” conference have long-term impact potential for informing the public about water quality, aquatic biota and nutrient management. The stakeholder-driven, TWP model is transferable and can advance current approaches for addressing nutrients in cost-effective ways.