Urban waterways are the lifeblood of American cities, but are particularly vulnerable to pollution from a variety of sources – e.g., stormwater runoff, industrial waste, and combined sewer overflows—that negatively impacts public health and limits communities’ ability to thrive. Today, more than 70% of all Americans live within two miles of a polluted lake, river, stream or coastal area (US EPA, 2016 ). Urban Waters Learning Network members are using a variety of approaches to monitor the quality of their local waterways, help community members understand their waterways’ health and advance strategies to improve local water quality.

Water Quality – Urban Waters Webinars

Water Quality Management for Impact and Engagement

This session provides an overview of EPA resources to support volunteer monitoring programs and details two successful volunteer water quality monitoring programs in Atlanta and Denver. Presenters include: Stacey Eriksen, EPA Regional Coordinator (EPA Region 8); Jason Ulseth, Chatahoochee Riverkeeper (Atlanta, GA) and Rachel Hansgen, Groundwork Denver Program Manager (Denver, CO).


Creating Partnerships to Promote Citizen Science and Advocacy

Many organizations in urban waters settings are working on similar initiatives to restore and protect water resources. An abundance of water quality data is collected and reported on independent websites, with data and information used to advocate for meaningful environmental changes. Sharing information and combining strengths of different organizations can create more complete and meaningful records, thereby enhancing the environmental impacts and magnifying community voices.

In this session, the Lower Hudson Urban Waters Collaborative shares how they formed their partnership in the Lower Hudson River Valley to solidify a working relationship between four organizations – the Center for Urban River at Beczak (CURB), Riverkeeper, the Bronx River Alliance, and the Hudson River Watershed Alliance (HRWA). Learn how the partnership helped them coordinate multiple Citizen Science water quality monitoring programs, data collection protocols, and data storage methods for greater advocacy outcomes. Members of the team share the value of the data as a tool to inform local decision-making and amplify their community voice for environmentally sound policies.


Crowdsourcing Water Quality Data through Mobile Apps

Monitoring of our waterways is critical to identify issues of concern, to evaluate restoration projects’ success, and to gauge changes over time. New technologies are continually shaping the way we collect data, providing water quality monitors with new capabilities and increasing the amount, variety, and quality of data being collected. Mobile apps are a fun, interactive way to involve people in monitoring their local waters and to educate them on local issues.


In this webinar, we explored three mobile apps designed to identify issues that threaten stream and public health. Learn about the Galveston Bay Action Network pollution reporting app, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper’s Swim Guide, and EPA’s bloomWatch.



Story Maps

Managing Urban Litter

Successful litter management projects include a mix of strategies such as source prevention, citizen science, community education, partnerships, and research. While these are often used together, each of the highlighted programs have strengths that make them standout. In this story map, discover useful resources to manage litter in your community and learn how Birmingham (AL), Philadelphia (PA), the Bronx, NYC (NY), Atlanta (GA) and St. Louis (MO) are tackling litter locally.


Urban Water Quality and Public Health

This story map highlights three unique water quality projects by Groundwork Denver, Heal the Bay, and NY/NJ Baykeeper. All three organizations are working toward healthier environments for underserved communities living in and around their urban waterways. Through their programs, these organizations are monitoring for E.coli, microplastics and other pollutants, sharing the information with their communities using online tools and report cards and making the connections between local water quality and residents’ public health.

Additional Resources