Celebrate AZ Water – Help Protect Arizona Streams with Arizona Water Watch!

January 30, 2018

Arizona is a beautiful state with many gorgeous waterbodies. As a desert state, water is one of Arizona’s most precious resources that people and animals rely on to live and is vital to our recreational enjoyment as well. Scientists at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) encourage residents to help protect these waterbodies and recently developed a tool to do just that.

New Arizona Water Watch App

In November ADEQ launched its new user-friendly Arizona Water Watch App.  This easy to use app allows citizen scientists to collect scientific observations on streams, lakes, and washes around the state in only three minutes. The app prompts citizen scientists to answer yes or no questions, take a few pictures of the waterbody and geo-locate where the observation was made while they are already out recreating in Arizona.

Many streams in Arizona don’t flow year-round, but still play an important role in Arizona’s ecosystem. The first observation in the app addresses this basic role by asking if water is present. Understanding the flow pattern of streams in the state will help scientists know when to target the collection of water chemistry and aquatic bug samples for future studies. Additional questions proceed on many topics, including the presence of trash, animal signs and algal blooms. If the “yes” button is selected, a series of additional questions will appear to hone in on the observation. For example, if trash is present at a stream and “yes” is selected, another follow-up question about what kind of trash it is will appear with a series of options: tires, cans, plastic wrappers, etc. There is an option available if citizen scientists want to type in a specific answer with details rather than choosing from a list.

The data from the app is reviewed quarterly and the citizen scientist’s observation will be publicly available on the ADEQ Arizona Water Watch Website: http://www.azdeq.gov/programs/azww. Scientists will use the submitted observations to more quickly discover and analyze water quality issues, update flow data, and identify waterbodies for future studies.

The app is just one layer of a multi-layered volunteer opportunity that ADEQ’s new citizen science program offers.  Arizona Water Watch is a water quality monitoring volunteer program for children (10+), teens, college students, adults, and retirees. ADEQ provides onsite training at the waterbody of interest, loans out scientific equipment, and provides assistance with the study design.

Currently, water monitoring research locations include: Aravaipa, Butte, Fossil, Granite, Miller, Oak, and Sabino Creek, as well as the Gila, Santa Cruz, San Pedro, and Verde Rivers. And both Luna and Rainbow Lakes. Volunteers have access to resources like user friendly forms, micro-video lessons, a citizen science handbook, and so much more! If interested in starting a watershed group, please contact the citizen science coordinator, Meghan Smart: meghan.smart@azdeq.gov. By citizen science volunteers and state scientists working together to collect high quality, credible data, more waterbodies in Arizona can be assessed and protected!

Use the Arizona Water Watch app while you are out enjoying nature in Arizona. With just three minutes of your time, you can directly contribute to the protection and scientific research on Arizona’s waterbodies! Other volunteer opportunities are also available, so please contact ADEQ to get involved!

Are you looking for other unique and interesting destinations to explore in Arizona? Then be sure to check out our complete list of Celebrate AZ Water articles.


From time to time, Water – Use It Wisely features guest bloggers who write about topics related to water and conservation. The author of this blog post, Meghan Smart, is an Environmental Scientist at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

Bio: Meghan Smart is a scientist with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). She obtained her B.S. degree from U of A in Natural Resources in 2006. A biologist by training, she has declared her position at ADEQ as “the best job ever!” For 11 years she studied perennial streams, wetlands, and intermittent streams throughout Arizona. Meghan has lead three new programs for the state:  intermittent stream research, recreational monitoring program, and has currently transitioned to creating Arizona Water Watch, a new ADEQ citizen science program. She is passionate about nature, all things related to science, and photography.