Monitoring groundwater health using citizen scientists in semi-arid regional Australia

Kathryn L. Korbel*, Grant C. Hose

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Citizen science (CS) around the world is undergoing a resurgence, potentially due to the utilization of new technologies and methods to capture information, such as data and photo entry via mobile phone apps. CS has been used in aquatic ecology for several decades, however the use of volunteers to collect data in groundwaters has rarely occurred. Groundwater research, particularly groundwater ecosystems, is unevenly distributed across the world, limiting our knowledge of these ecosystems and their functions. Here, we engaged six volunteer farmers in semi-arid region of north-western New South Wales, Australia to participate in an assessment of groundwater health using privately owned wells. Volunteers were supplied with sampling kits and instructions on sampling methods. Data retrieved indicated the health of the groundwater ecosystems, simultaneously providing information on water quality and groundwater biota present within the farm aquifers. Diverse stygofauna were collected from the trial, which reflected historical records of stygofauna within the same catchment indicating the viability of using citizen scientist for data collection. The citizen science project not only aided the collection of data and assessment of groundwater health, but also provided a tool for education, attracting media attention which furthered the education to a national audience. The amount of data still required to understand groundwater ecosystems, combined with the urgency to manage these environments, suggests that citizen scientists may complement the efforts of scientists around the globe to establish the impacts and consequences of human activities on this resource.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGroundwater
Early online date4 Apr 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Groundwater published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of National Ground Water Association.

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