Last week in FLOW, the Watershed Management Division reported on the dedicated and outstanding efforts of the volunteers in the Lay Monitoring and Vermont Invasive Patrollers. This week, we would like to highlight the complementary efforts of citizen scientists who participate in the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) LaRosa Partnership Program to test rivers and streams throughout Vermont.
As described last week, the Division cannot deliver comprehensive water quality testing to all waters of the State with only our staff scientists. As such, we rely upon a partnership with watershed-based monitoring and improvement associations to conduct scientifically robust citizen-based water testing of streams. Through the LaRosa Partnership Program, the Division partners with DEC’s R.A. LaRosa Environmental Laboratory to make laboratory testing services, technical assistance, and training available to interested river and watershed groups. The purpose of the program is to help associations and monitoring groups implement new and/or ongoing surface water monitoring projects for waters in need of water quality assessment, with the goal of directing water quality improvement or protection projects to streams in greatest need. Sampling includes phosphorus, nitrogen, chlorophyll-a, total suspended solids, E. coli bacteria, turbidity, alkalinity, conductivity, pH, and numerous other compounds.
Volunteer associations in Vermont including river, lake, and watershed groups, and water quality and conservation committees associated with local municipalities are common participants (see a comprehensive list below). Educators from elementary, middle, or high-schools who are interested in water quality monitoring may also participate.
As the Program enters its 14th year, the steady annual program growth reflects the collective efforts of talented and interested citizen-scientists working in common cause with the Division. LaRosa Partnership Participants have been responsible in many instances for translating water testing results into direct, on-the-ground actions, including river restoration projects involving multiple partners. The testing allows citizens to get out and see their streams and rivers firsthand, learn about water quality issues, and use water testing to identify where impacts are present. These groups then work with the Division’s watershed coordinators and other staff to seek grant finding to fix the problem. If your organization is interested in participating in the LaRosa Partnership Program, please contact Jim Kellogg at the Watershed Management Division, or your watershed coordinator.