Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collaborative – A Multi-tiered Approach to (Citizen Science Based) Cyanobacteria Monitoring | North American Lakes Management Society International Symposium | November 2, 2016
Presented by: Linda Green, URI Cooperative Extension
Volunteer water quality monitoring in New England (NE) is well-established and well-respected. Some NE volunteer monitoring/citizen science programs are now adding cyanobacteria-monitoring to their toolbox in a unique collaboration with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s New England Regional laboratory (EPA-NE) and many other organizations. In 2013 EPA-NE convened the Northeast Cyanobacteria and Bloomwatch workgroup. It consists of state environmental, public health and beach monitoring programs, tribes, public water suppliers, NGOs, citizen monitoring groups, and academics. The workgroup has collaboratively developed, tested, evaluated, refined, and implemented a uniform and consistent regional approach to cyanobacteria monitoring in a cost-effective manner appropriate to organizations with a wide range of expertise and funds.
This presentation will discuss the methods and tools from the workgroup and show how it fits volunteer monitoring/citizen science so well, using the URI Watershed Watch (URIWW) program as an example. The relatively inexpensive cyano monitoring kits uses field fluorometers with smartphones connected to field microscopes. There’s an on-line “dirty dozen” cyanobacteria reference key and unique techniques for separating cyanobacteria in the field. There’s even an app to directly send field data & bloom images to a central database for documentation and identification. A subset of experienced URIWW volunteers on lakes with confirmed cyanobacteria blooms took on cyanobacteria monitoring in addition to their usual duties. Undergraduate URI Coastal Fellows participate in the workgroup and provide the interface to URIWW volunteers, while gaining new knowledge and expertise in science and, also importantly, working with concerned citizens. They also conduct cyano monitoring themselves.