On November 11, 2017, I had the privilege of volunteering with the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance and the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper to take river samples of Proctor, Utoy, and Sandy Creek water. I arrived at Grove Park Recreation Center early that morning and began testing water samples with my team within an hour. It was a fun and eye opening experience to witness what some must do every day to ensure that our creeks and streams are clean and safe for habitats that live around them including everyday people. Upon arrival I was able to witness a brief introduction by the leaders for the day including Dr. Na’Taki Jelks who explained the importance of surveying our streams. A brief explanation of how to collect samples safely was then given and we were then split into groups to travel to our respective sites to begin sampling.
I was also very inspired to see so many people from the surrounding community who chose to attend to not only bring awareness to keeping our streams clean, but also to meet community members and leaders. Although those who live within the communities surrounding Proctor Creek, Utoy Creek, and Sandy Creek may not have degrees in science, when the sampling specialists and scientists go home from testing water samples, they in fact are relied upon to be able to notice slight changes in their water supply in order to prevent large scale disasters over a long period of time. I was also inspired to see so many children at the volunteering event as it is important for children to witness early the importance of sustainability and stewardship for their communities. I hope that the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance and the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers continue to host events such as the Westside River Rendezvous to keep the community involved and to maintain an up to date record of the health of some of Atlanta’s most prominent streams.