Grants of $25,000 have been awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to community groups in New York and New Jersey to help monitor water pollution over the summer.
The "citizen science" grants were provided to the Bronx River Alliance and the Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance in New York, and the New York/New Jersey Baykeeper and Friends of the Bonsal Preserve in New Jersey, to monitor water quality on tributaries of the New York/New Jersey Harbor.
According to the EPA, the groups are testing for the bacteria Enterococcus, which indicates the presence of fecal contamination. They are also taking general water quality measurements such as dissolved oxygen, pH and temperature, using sampling and laboratory equipment supplied as part of the EPA's equipment loan program.
Volunteers from the community groups attended a two-day training session in May, when EPA scientists gave lectures and demonstrations on operating GPS devices, water quality meters, data management techniques and laboratory analysis.
Sampling began in June and is planned to conclude in late August.
Citizen science enlists members of the public to collect environmental data. The EPA provides citizen science grants to help organizations collect information on air and water pollution in their communities and seek solutions to environmental and public health problems.
According to EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck, citizen science is an important and growing field that can provide invaluable insight into pollution problems in local communities.