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Latvians and Estonians are invited to take part in monitoring natural springs

Latvians and Estonians are invited to take part in monitoring natural springs

Water sources are an asset that will increase in value in the future

At the end of this week, Valmiera’s municipal website invited residents to join in the volunteer monitoring of water sources and springs, and especially so in the Gauja-Salaca and Salaca-Salatsi river basin districts. This is in the framework of an Interreg project between Latvian and Estonian institutions and organizations to prepare common trans-border river basin management plans in the transboundary area of the two countries.

The idea is to ensure long-term sustainable management of the drinking water resources in the Baltic countries. The project, however, also has the goal to increase awareness, and indeed even hands-on involvement among the general public with the research and monitoring.

Next time you’re hiking outdoors, check the quality of a natural spring

For this purpose, the initiative, known for short as WaterAct, is counting with its own website (available in 5 languages, among them English). On it, willing water monitors can find an interactive map charting all the available freshwater sources in both countries. The website also gives them instructions on how to participate and why the project is important.

The experts behind the project have posted explanations on how to find and identify, evaluate a source, and record data related to it. It is also possible to view information about the observations made by others, register and add newly identified sources and your own observations on the easy-to-use map.

Observations can be made by anyone depending on the equipment available (gauges, test kits, thermometers, among other things) and skills. They can be done in a variety of ways, including by taking photos. Photo monitoring is a quick, easy, and effective way to detect changes in nature for further analysis. 

Also, even if one has no analytical tools, the basic human senses can still tell a lot about the properties of spring water. For example: determining the temperature of water by hand, tasting water or determining its aroma, as well as visual evaluation. People can submit their observations online and thus become part of the research team even if they lack a science background.

In order to promote students' interest and understanding of environmental issues, it is planned to involve schools in the observation of sources, as well. Conducting source surveys is a great opportunity to combine an educational process with going out and spending time in nature.

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