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DEC seeks volunteers

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is recruiting citizen scientists to conduct water quality assessments in Lake Ontario and the Niagara, Genesee, Delaware, Hudson and Mohawk River watersheds as part of the Water Assessments by Volunteer Evaluators project.

While the DEC regularly receives data and information from the public to consider in its water quality assessments, the WAVE Program provides information about how to collect data most useful to the agency. WAVE data is used to augment the work of the DEC Stream Biomonitoring Unit, which samples streams and rivers across the state to create an inventory of stream water quality.

Citizen monitors will visit stream sites once per year, anytime between July and September, and collect macroinvertebrates — insects and other small organisms — from the rocks and rubble on the stream bottom. If six or more of the “Most Wanted” organisms are found, the stream segment is assessed as having no known impacts and fully supporting aquatic life. If mostly “Least Wanted” organisms are found, then the stream segment will be flagged for possible investigation by professionals.

The WAVE training sessions are rotated throughout the state’s 17 major drainage basins on a five-year schedule, targeting those basins that will be sampled by the DEC Stream Biomonitoring Unit in the following year. For more information, or to register for a training session, visit the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/92229.html.