The Water Action Volunteers (WAV) citizen science stream monitoring program is an ongoing partnership between the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), Wisconsin volunteers and local groups. The program aims to preserve, protect and restore Wisconsin’s 86,000+ miles of streams and rivers by educating and empowering volunteers to (a) gather high-quality stream data useful for decision-making and natural resource management, and (b) share their data, knowledge and passion for stewardship with others in their community.
Annually, more than 500 volunteers and an estimated 2,000 supervised students monitor 600+ stream locations throughout the state. Active volunteers include individuals and families, sporting groups (e.g., Trout Unlimited chapters), school and youth groups, community organizations (e.g., watershed associations), family farms and businesses. The number of sites monitored has grown each year since the WAV stream monitoring program inception in 1996.
Volunteers monitor their stream sites for a variety of water quality data including dissolved oxygen, temperature, transparency, stream flow, aquatic macroinvertebrates, habitat, aquatic invasive species, phosphorus and chloride. Data are entered into a publicly accessible statewide database managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR).