Early Influence of the COVID‐19 Pandemic on Volunteer Water Monitoring Programs in the United States and Canada
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Early Influence of the COVID‐19 Pandemic on Volunteer Water Monitoring Programs in the United States and Canada

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  • Journal Title:
    JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association
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    Volunteer water monitoring programs generate new scientific knowledge, contribute data to decision‐making processes, and increase social networks, technical knowledge, and skills of participants. Declaration of the COVID‐19 pandemic threatened the ability of these programs to continue to engage volunteers to achieve such outcomes. A national water monitoring network hosted a brainstorming webinar to facilitate communication across programs to identify potential solutions to pandemic‐influenced challenges. Following that webinar, a survey of United States and Canadian volunteer monitoring programs that was conducted about 3 months into the pandemic revealed that 72% of 80 responding programs planned to carry on through the 2020 field season despite most having experienced delayed starts. Other common program modifications implemented in the first months of the pandemic included adding COVID‐19 safety information to program guidance, changing field team composition, monitoring timing and logistics, and adopting new communications strategies. Most programs reported loss or anticipated loss in number of data observations (74%) and volunteers (66%), while 44% reported known or anticipated losses in funding. Seventeen percent of responding programs were able to swiftly develop distance learning tools to train participants, which led to increased program capacity to reach broader audiences.
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    JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 58(6), 1377-1387
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    CC BY
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