As one of Earth’s most abundant and precious natural resources, water is vital for a healthy and sustainable planet. Water is critical for nature’s many different ecosystems and its quality impacts all living things. With rising challenges posed by climate change and other environmental factors, every action counts to ensure access to clean water.

In honor of World Water Day (March 22, 2023), the Student Conservation Association (SCA) is highlighting its participants doing their part to protect this crucial resource so the planet can thrive. Several SCA interns and crews complete water conservation work, including managing natural resources, water quality monitoring, educating the public on water-related topics and protecting aquatic species.

Watershed Specialist (Hudson Valley Corps), NY

The condition of streams and rivers is significantly impacted by different stressors and can ultimately affect a local community’s drinking water, recreational activities and economic growth. Protecting watersheds can also minimize water treatment costs and increase resilience when faced with extreme weather events.

As part of the Hudson Valley Corps in New York, the SCA currently has a Watershed Monitoring Specialist assisting with conducting water quality monitoring for eight streams within the Hudson River Estuary Watershed. The data collected can help determine necessary restoration efforts, best management practices and future conservation and land use planning initiatives.

Hudson River
Hudson River (Jack Bulmer)

Aquatic Barrier Inventory Intern (Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office), WI

Aquatic species need to move! Fish, turtles and other marine organisms rely on clear migration routes to survive extreme conditions and be protected from predators. Barriers within these ecosystems over time are also detrimental to human health and safety.

The SCA Aquatic Barrier Inventory Intern supports aquatic organism passage and restoration throughout northeast Wisconsin and the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Working with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists conducting field surveys on road-stream crossings, the team measures and identifies barriers to aquatic organism passage. These surveys will help prioritize restoration efforts to restore habitat connectivity, migration pathways for aquatic organisms, water quality and infrastructure safety.

Sandstone reef at Lake Superior
Sandstone reef, Lake Superior (National Park Service)

Aquatic and Physical Science Intern (Sonoran Desert Network), AZ

Streams and riparian areas are essential for the Sonoran Desert Network’s ecosystems. From controlling water pollution to supplying food for wildlife, these water bodies and respective areas must be managed effectively.

To assist with monitoring water resources across the Sonoran Desert Network’s multiple parks, the SCA Aquatic and Physical Science Intern helps with the collection of processing water quality and quantity data, aquatic habitat surveys, collection of aquatic macroinvertebrates and collection of environmental DNA samples and geomorphology.

Desert biome with barrel cacti and flowering brittlebrush, Tonto National Monument
Desert biome with barrel cacti and flowering brittlebrush, Tonto National Monument (National Park Service)

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