September 18th is World Water Monitoring Day. This day has been observed since 2003, with the aim being to increase public awareness of water quality and water quality monitoring.

Even though World Water Monitoring Day is still observed on 18 September each year, the initiative has in recent years (since 2009) been expanded to become the World Water Monitoring Challenge, a programme promoting citizen participation in monitoring local water resources around the globe. Basic, low cost water test kits can be ordered through the World Water Monitoring Challenge website, and facilities are provided for volunteers to upload their test results to a global water quality database. The parameters being tested include temperature, acidity (pH), clarity (turbidity) and dissolved oxygen (DO).

Getting schools and community groups involved in water monitoring is a practical and useful way to spread the water quality message.
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One of the goals of the Challenge is to expand participation to a million people in 100 countries by 2012. This is quite a stretching target, given that 2011 saw the involvement of just over 330 000 people from 77 countries. Even if the one million target is not reached this year yet, it remains a most impressive initiative, and considering the importance of keeping our global water resources useful and healthy, something that is definitely worth supporting and promoting. Conducting water tests as a schools programme or community initiative not only helps gather valuable data, but also raises awareness among participants about water quality and how their actions can directly and indirectly impact on their local water resources.

To ensure maximum particilation, the extended World Water Monitoring Challenge now runs from March 22 (United Nations World Water Day) to December 31 each year. So there’s no excuse not to get in on the action.

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