"Ah-Ha!" moments of 2016

Since AWARE's blog was created several years ago, it has become a good sounding board for interested or invested partners to discuss issues within our local watersheds.  With that being said, it is that time of year to reflect on some topics, or "Ah-Ha!" moments worth revisiting and giving second (or third or fourth) thoughts to:
AWARE members, both representatives from urban and rural agencies, realize we are all in this together! When it comes to water quality issues it is not an "Agricultural vs. Residential", "Rural vs. Urbanized" community battle.  The real battle is between old habits vs. new management practices.  Whether you realize it or not, AWARE members work hard everyday to educate land owners about water quality protective measures. 

  • Drinking Water is only as clean as the processes afforded by our drinking water providers. We rely on clean water for a lot of our daily tasks- dish washing, drinking, bathing, laundry. Unlike infrastructure improvements to our roads and bridges, water quality is not something we can see or feel.  However, it is good to know we have water treatment advancements that clarify and treat our raw surface water into potable drinking water.  Let us not take that for granted. 
  • "Rome was not built in a day"- I don't know who originally said that, but it applies to watershed planning.  Watershed awareness does not happen instantaneously. It takes an army to combat myths about watershed's and water quality.
  • AWARE is only as strong as the members involved.  This cannot be said enough for any volunteer group.  Several AWARE members worked together this past year to assist other members acquire grants for water quality improvements, education, and outreach:
    • Mahoning County Farm Bureau received $1,500 from the Ohio Farm Bureau's 2016 County Water Quality Initiative Program.  The title of their project was "Nutrient Management in the Upper Mill Creek Watershed: What Our Soils Can Teach Us".  The project was a first of its kind for our watersheds and serves as a great example of an across the board (urban and rural communities) application! The grant provided funding for several nutrient management workshops and soil sample analysis. Whether it is a landowner who fertilizes their lawn or the farmer who spreads nutrients across their field, proper nutrient management us universal.
    • Yellow Creek Watershed communities received a $5,000 Ohio Environmental Education Fund (OEEF) grant to implement the Yellow Creek Watershed Action Plan.  The project, "You Are Here- a Snapshot of the Yellow Creek Watershed" is an example of great collaboration between Poland Village, Poland Township, Poland Local School District, Mill Creek MetroParks, Mahoning County Engineers Office, Mahoning County Health Department, and Eastgate.  The project will fund the production of 5 signs that will discuss the watershed, education in order to protect our surface waters from non point source pollution, and provide simple solutions to improve or maintain current water quality.
In 2017, the possibilities for AWAREness are endless and working together will make those possibilities realities! Therefore, a question to ponder for new "Ah-HA!" moments- What will you do to further AWARE's mission/legacy in 2017?

Thank you to everyone who helped make 2016 a successful year for AWARE and for continuing to inspire watershed residents.  I hope all who reads this blog enjoy the remaining days of 2016 and I look forward to furthering AWARE's mission in 2017 with you!

-Stephanie Dyer
Environmental Program Manager
Eastgate Regional 
Council of Governments