A collaborative, regional approach to cyanobacteria monitoring and bloom detection in New England lakes | ANREP/NACDEP Joint National Conference | June 27, 2016
In 2013, the EPA Region I Laboratory and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission invited stakeholder groups in New England to a cyanobacteria workgroup. The goal of the workgroup was to work collaboratively to address issues related to cyanobacteria in lakes and rivers, including ecological and human health impacts, monitoring approaches, and communication with the public. One of the key objectives of the workgroup was the development of an improved monitoring strategy for cyanobacteria in lakes in the region. Of primary importance to this strategy was the development and adoption of consistent methods for both short-term cyanobacteria bloom detection and long-term monitoring of cyanobacteria populations.
Over the past three years, a range of organizations (local, state, federal, tribal, non- profit, academic) have been actively participating in the workgroup to determine standard methods to use in sampling for cyanobacteria, a useful and practical approach to systematically collect and analyze the data, and best practices for communicating the results to stakeholders. During the summers of 2014 and 2015, the newly developed monitoring approaches were tested on over 100 sites spread across all six New England states. While the methods are designed to mesh well with existing state monitoring efforts, there are also numerous ways for others to participate (i.e., citizen monitors, public health officials, water suppliers).
Cooperative Extension from two states in the region (New Hampshire, Rhode Island) have been involved with the cyanobacteria workgroup from the beginning and have played a major role in the development of the group’s monitoring strategy and communication plan. As the program further develops and expands, Extension’s role as a communicator and experience working with volunteers will become of increasing importance to the success of the group.