New York, N.Y. -- With support of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 'citizen science' grants, two New York community groups have begun their final weeks of summer water pollution monitoring. The Bronx River Alliance and the Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance have been using $25,000 grants to monitor water quality on tributaries of the New York/New Jersey Harbor. The groups are testing for the bacteria Enterococcus, which indicates the presence of fecal contamination, and are also measuring general water quality parameters such as dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature. Sampling concludes in late August.
“Citizen science is an important, growing field that can provide invaluable insight into pollution problems in local communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “This funding will help inform local residents about the environmental conditions in their own backyards.”
Citizen science enlists the public in collecting a wide range of environmental data and is an important tool for expanding scientific knowledge and literacy. EPA citizen science grants are used to help organizations collect information on air and water pollution in their communities and seek solutions to environmental and public health problems.
Equipment used by The Bronx River Alliance and the Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance is part of the EPA’s new equipment loan program. Sampling and laboratory equipment is often the most expensive part of a monitoring program. Through this initiative, citizen science groups will be able to collect data in their own communities with fewer up-front costs. By lending this equipment to eligible community groups, the EPA hopes to allow more citizen scientists the opportunity to collect high quality data and increase environmental stewardship in their community.
In May 2014, the EPA conducted a two day training session for 15-20 volunteers from both the Bronx River Alliance and the Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance. EPA scientists provided lectures and hands on demonstrations on operating GPS devices, water quality meters, data management techniques, and laboratory analysis. From June through the end of August 2014, each organization is conducting sampling five times per month at 10-16 sampling stations. The Bronx River Alliance is sampling an eight mile stretch on the Bronx River, which flows from Westchester County in New York to The Bronx, New York. The Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance is sampling on the Sparkill Creek, which flows from Blauvelt, New York to Northvale, New Jersey. The groups are collecting GPS coordinates and basic water quality information, and are performing analysis of bacteria levels at local laboratories, including the EPA’s laboratory in Edison, New Jersey.
For more information on Citizen Science, visit: http://epa.gov/region2/citizenscience.