For 20 weeks starting May 21, volunteers from local boathouses and community groups will be collecting weekly water samples at boat launches and docks from Yonkers to Jamaica Bay. Using EPA-approved kits from IDEXX laboratories, our main project partner partners at The River Project along with partner labs at Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River at Beczak, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University Earth Institute, Queens College School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, John Jay College of Criminal Justice Department of Sciences, and LaGuardia Community College Biology Department will test the samples for microbes of the genus Enterococcus (“Entero”). Enterococci are commonly found in the feces of humans and other warm-blooded animals; their presence in the water is an indication of fecal pollution and the possible presence of pathogens that could be harmful to human health.
We will publish test results here every Friday evening throughout the boating season. The idea is to create a baseline of data that, when correlated with rain and tide information, can help better inform boaters of likely water quality at their preferred launch sites. Because local boaters and boating groups have the best understanding of local variations in weather, current and topography, and because they are best able to assess the risk of exposure posed by the particular kind of boating that they intend to do, we feel the best approach for us is to present only the results of our testing, plus basic tide and rainfall information, and leave the interpretation and decision-making to those boaters and boating groups.
If you would like to volunteer to sample or to help out in our lab, or be added to our water testing email list please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to the more than 20 community boathouses, community groups, and waterfront parks that are supporting our program this year, and special thanks to the Lily Auchincloss Foundation and Alex Herzan for their ongoing support of this project.
For a terrific explanation of how weather affects a watershed, complete with interactive tools to further your understanding, visit the website of our partner group, the Newtown Creek Alliamce at www.newtowncreekalliance.org