URI Watershed Watch seeks volunteers to monitor lakes, ponds, streams

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KINGSTON, R.I. – March 22, 2007 – The University of Rhode Island’s Watershed Watch program is seeking additional volunteers to monitor lakes, ponds, and streams throughout the state in 2007. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the program has grown from 25 volunteers monitoring a dozen lakes in 1988 to 350 volunteers and 220 sites on 100 different water bodies in 2007.

“The data collected by our volunteers is used by watershed organizations, policy makers, regulators and state and local officials to make decisions that affect the environmental health of the state and its residents,” said Herron.

An introduction to the Watershed Watch program and classroom training for new Watershed Watch volunteers will be held Saturday, March 24 from 9 a.m. to noon and repeated Wednesday, April 4 from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Coastal Institute building on URI’s Kingston campus. The required field training session will take place on April 14, April 21 and May 1. The program is sponsored by URI’s Cooperative Extension in the College of the Environment and Life Sciences, the state Department of Environmental Management, and many local organizations.

Volunteers come from all walks of life and are of all ages, occupations, educational backgrounds and interests. Each potential volunteer is matched to a specific location that they will be in charge of monitoring. “Ideally we try to find more than one volunteer per site so they can share monitoring duties,” noted Green. “We’re also seeing a growing number of students who become monitors to amass community service hours.” Since ponds, lakes and some salt water sites are monitored at their deepest point, a boat, canoe or kayak is needed, as well as some free time once a week in the middle of the day. River and stream sites, monitored early in the morning at mid-stream, are generally more accessible, with few requiring a boat for access.

The monitoring season begins in May and ends in mid-October. Once a week on a day of their choice, volunteers monitor for water clarity and temperature. Every two weeks they also monitor algae concentrations and dissolved oxygen. On several designated dates, volunteers collect water samples that are analyzed at URI for nutrients, acidity and bacteria.

For more information or to register for the training sessions, contact Herron at 401-874-4552 or at uriww@etal.uri.edu. Visit the program’s web site at www.uri.edu/ce/wq/ww for detailed information about the program and its list of 2007 monitoring locations.