The Inland Bays Citizen Monitoring Program was established in 1991 – in support of the goals of the newly created Delaware Inland Bays National Estuary Program – to collect verifiable water quality data to support public policy decisions and to increase public participation and support for the management and protection of the bays. The program has expanded in geography and scope since then, and the new name – The University of Delaware Citizen Monitoring Program – reflects those changes. In addition to the Inland Bays Citizen Monitoring Program, the program includes the Broadkill River Monitoring Program, the Harmful Algae Monitoring Program, and the Bacteria Monitoring Program.
The program is managed by the University of Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service at the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment in Lewes. Funding support initially came through the National Estuary Program, but since 1994 the Citizen Monitoring Program has received an appropriation from the Delaware General Assembly through a Memorandum of Agreement with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). Additional support comes from many supporters including: Sea Grant; DNREC; the Center for the Inland Bays; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the Delaware Estuary Program; the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and local communities.
One of the unique features of the Citizen Monitoring Program is its close association with the University of Delaware Sea Grant Program, which provides a direct link to university outreach and research staff and the facilities at a highly regarded marine research institution.
The Citizen Monitoring Program provides a wonderful opportunity to leverage limited outreach and research dollars by creating partnerships that truly benefit all partners.
The program also benefits from its close tie to the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. The College provides the Citizen Monitoring Program with its own laboratory space and access to analytic tools including an autoanalyzer to measure nutrients, spectrophotometer for chlorophyll measurements, microscopes and all the other amenities available at a leading marine research institution. We have close working relationships with College faculty, lab coordinators, research associates and students who, despite their own commitments, are regularly willing to lend a hand. College faculty staff and students provide seminars at our Quality Assurance Workshops to share research results on related topics.
The College benefits as well. Since the primary purpose of the graduate program is to develop well- rounded marine research scientists, educators and managers, the opportunity to be involved with the Citizen Monitoring Program has enriched graduate student education and experience.
The Citizen Monitoring Program is all about connections. In these days of belt-tightening, none of our institutions have the resources to do it alone, yet we all have unique talents, resources, and niches. Working together, we have been able to accomplish much more than we could by working alone. Our relationship with the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, the Sea Grant Program, DNREC, the Center for the Inland Bays and others have benefited all institutions, but perhaps most importantly, have benefited the citizens of Delaware