Water Stewardship Training to be Offered in Northern Idaho

Friday, March 4 2011

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – Due to growing public interest in measuring and maintaining water quality throughout northern Idaho, three workshops teaching water quality monitoring skills and best practices will be offered through University of Idaho Extension this spring.

Completion of the training results in certification as Master Water Stewards. Cost is $25 per participant. Workshops providing training and certification are offered in at two locations in northern Idaho.

The first IDAH2O Master Water Steward workshop will take place from 3-7 p.m., Thursday, March 17, and Friday, March 18, at the Coeur d’Alene Tribe Wellness Center, 1100 A St., in Plummer. For information or to register, call Extension educator Laura Laumatia at (208) 686-1716.

A second workshop is offered 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Friday, April 1, or Saturday, April 9, at University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene, 1031 N. Academic Way in Coeur d'Alene. For more information or to register, call (208) 215-0407.

The workshops use a format similar to the popular Master Gardeners program to educate watershed groups and individuals who seek proficiency and certification as water quality monitors.

Master Water Steward training was developed by Benewah County Extension Educator Ashley McFarland in response to input from more than 100 County Commissioners across the state – many of whom listed water quality as a priority, said McFarland.

IDAH2O Master Water Steward training includes instruction on how to implement accurate biological, chemical and ecological assessments, teaching participants how to assess water quality in wade-able streams that feed larger bodies of water.

“Analysis of these tributaries allows water stewards to identify the source of pollutants before they arrive in the regions lakes and ponds,” said McFarland.

“Maintaining a high level of water quality in North Idaho is extremely important to residents that rely on it for drinking water and to aquatic animals that require the habitat it supports,” said McFarland. “A large part of Idaho’s economy is supported by tourism, which needs a fresh supply of water for fisheries and recreation. Water quality monitoring helps protect the biological and economic health of the region.”

The northern Idaho program is funded by an $11,570 seed grant from the university and a $3,000 grant from the Coeur d’Alene Rotary. Rotary funding will go toward purchase of reusable water quality test kits to be used in the Coeur d’Alene area.

McFarland collaborated with a technical advisory group to make the program directly applicable to northern Idaho waters. The advisory group included Glen Rothrock, Lake Management Plan coordinator for Idaho's Department of Environmental Quality; Rebecca Stevens, lake management restoration coordinator with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe; Tyson Clyne, Watershed Coordinator for the St. Joe and St. Maries Rivers in the DEQ Coeur d'Alene Regional Office; and Sid Fredrickson, Wastewater Superintendent for the City of Coeur d’Alene, among others.

The training and certification were offered for the first time last year. Through the program, 22 citizens of the region became certified water quality monitors. McFarland aims to certify an additional 50 volunteers this spring.

“I am really excited to build on to the momentum from last fall," said McFarland," and I hope to eventually take the program statewide.”

To host an IDAH2O workshop, contact McFarland at idah2o@uidaho.edu or (208) 215-0407. For additional information, visit www.uidaho.edu/cda/idah2o/.
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s land-grant institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year. The University of Idaho is classified by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation as high research activity. The student population of 12,000 includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars, who select from more than 130 degree options in the colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Art and Architecture; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Law; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Natural Resources; and Science. The university also is charged with the statewide mission for medical education through the WWAMI program. The university combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities and focuses on helping students to succeed and become leaders. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. For more information, visit www.uidaho.edu.