Gatineau, Québec – June 14, 2016: This morning Ottawa Riverkeeper announced the official launch of the Water Rangers website: a unique tool that empowers citizens to protect their waterways by observing, monitoring, and reporting on key water indicators and sharing their observations with advocacy groups, the scientific community, and the public. The announcement was accompanied by a live demonstration by Ottawa Riverkeeper’s Staff Scientist, the Water Rangers developers and designer, and several volunteers from Ottawa Riverkeeper’s Riverwatch program.
The Water Rangers website – an award winning map-based web app designed with citizen science groups in mind – took first prize at Canada’s first Aquahacking event, which was held in May at the 2015 Ottawa River Summit and presented by the de Gaspé Beaubien foundation. Since then, the dedicated Water Rangers team has been working with Ottawa Riverkeeper to further develop and expand the platform for the public. Armed with a mobile phone, members of the public will be able to easily share data and report pollution in real time. The website uses clear language and simple graphs to help users make sense of their data, which can be observational (e.g. animals, invasive species, pollution) or scientific (e.g. pH, temperature, e-coli levels).
Already the Water Rangers are recording observations from across the Ottawa River watershed, and they have also partnered with Mobile Baykeeper in Alabama, who have been collecting data for years. “Our dream is to one day have millions of citizen water quality tests on our app from all around the world. The official launch is just the beginning,” says Kat Kavanagh, Executive Director and designer of Water Rangers.
The platform will prove especially useful for networks like Ottawa Riverkeeper’s Riverwatchers, who will be the first citizen scientists to be trained. “To date the Riverwatchers have completed over 2,000 water tests spanning the past three years. Now, thanks to the Water Rangers, we have an easier way to share that data with the public,” says Patrick Nadeau, Executive Director of Ottawa Riverkeeper.
The Riverwatch network, which comprises over 70 individuals and groups throughout the watershed and spans over 615 km of river shoreline, is trained to watch and report on river conditions in the community. Their observations help improve knowledge about the health of the river, and are invaluable to Ottawa Riverkeeper’s mission to ensure a swimmable, drinkable, fishable Ottawa River watershed.
Executive Director, Ottawa Riverkeeper
Ottawa Riverkeeper is a citizen-based action group that brings people together to protect and promote the ecological health and diversity of the Ottawa River and its tributaries. Expert and independent, our organization advocates for responsible decision-making, public education, participation, access to information, and compliance with protective regulations, for the benefit of our river and our communities.
Ottawa Riverkeeper is licensed member of Waterkeeper Alliance, an international grassroots advocacy organization founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Executive Director, Water Rangers
The Water Rangers’ mission is to build the tools to help citizens and scientists easily record and analyse water data so that they can use the data to learn about problems, share discoveries and engage with their neighbours. For more information or to get started, visit their website at waterrangers.ca.