Gain insight on how, working together, society can address water issues during “Crowdsourcing and Wicked Water Quality Problems: The Use of Citizens in Groundwater Quality Assessment” presented by Alan Kolok, Ph.D., director of the Idaho Water Resources Research Institute at the University of Idaho, prolific writer having authored more than 80 papers and two books, and editor of the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
According to Kolok’s presentation, it can be argued that water pollution has shifted in the United States from being primarily a point-source to a nonpoint source issue.
In that sense, water pollution has joined climate change as being a wicked environmental problem. Attributes of wicked problems include contaminant input from a vast number of sources, contaminant input occurring over a vast geography, a strong and complex temporal component to the occurrence and transport of the contamination, and a sense of urgency relative to remediation, as the contamination becomes progressively more entrenched over time.
In this environment, it is not only difficult to remediate problems that are occurring, it is equally difficult to simply assess the temporal and spatial extent of the problem.
Crowdsourced science, that is, data collected by individuals acting more or less autonomously from each other, is both a useful and a powerful tool for data collection relative to wicked problems. It not only allows for the rapid accumulation of large databases, it also allows those data to be collected simultaneously and with considerable geographic precision.
In this talk, examples will be given illustrating how crowdsourced science is helping to amass data relative to water quality, from both surface water and groundwater, on a landscape scale.
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