RAFT (River Assessment Field Team), a new citizen science program organized by the White River Alliance, has just completed a successful first year of sampling along the White River and its tributaries in Marion and Hamilton Counties.
The program was launched to collect data and help assess water quality in areas along the White River that were not being tested regularly. 32 volunteers joined the alliance at 4 sampling events, testing a total of 44 sites since the program started this October. Teams collected water samples to measure bacteria concentrations, conductivity, pH, and nutrient levels, and more in an effort to provide a more complete picture of water quality by teasing out pollution hot spots and measuring trends over time.
The RAFT program helps the White River Alliance direct educational and cost-share resources to areas with bad water quality and provides information for agencies like the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), and county health departments to fill in knowledge gaps and address concerns.
Another key feature of the program is a publicly accessible interactive data studio, showing the results of the sampling for each site including an approximation of the Water Quality Index score.
Anyone 18 years of age and older with moderate physical fitness can become a RAFT volunteer by completing the 2-3 hour online RAFT training program. The RAFT program is similar to Hoosier Riverwatch, but volunteers who already sample with Hoosier Riverwatch need to complete the RAFT training as well. Volunteers can sample at one or many events throughout the year.
In 2022, the White River Alliance will hold more events with the first one schedule January 23rd from 12-4pm at Conner Prairie.
Consider becoming trained as a RAFT volunteer today to help protect the quality of our water in Marion County!