Water-quality experts know polluted streams contaminate the White River, but environmental and health agencies have neither sufficient staff nor money to conduct extensive testing to capture a detailed picture of the problem.
With grant funding from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, the White River Alliance and volunteer citizen scientists are filling data gaps with the River Assessment Field Teams (RAFT) program. Individuals, families and small groups of friends and colleagues are signing up to participate in RAFT to conduct water quality sampling in locations where data is scant. Volunteers undergo training to ensure compliance with rigorous testing protocols, so agencies like Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) can use the data in its own analysis and water quality assessment.
With RAFT volunteers helping identify pollution hotspots, IDEM, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and county health departments can focus efforts to clean up the White River and its surrounding waterways. The White River Alliance hosts regular RAFT sampling events with the next one scheduled for March 20.