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For Release: Tuesday, April 14, 2015

DEC Seeks Volunteers and Local Coordinators to Conduct Stream and River Monitoring

Wave Program Provides Hands-on Experience for Citizen Monitors to Identify Whether Streams are Healthy

Regional Volunteer Training to Be Held in May and June

New Yorkers will have a unique opportunity to help monitor and protect water quality in the state by participating in the Water Assessments by Volunteer Evaluators (WAVE) Project, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced.

DEC is actively recruiting people to conduct water quality sampling in streams and rivers during the 2015 WAVE summer sampling season. Training sessions for volunteers will be held in May and June.

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. The work of citizen monitors provides valuable information to assist in identifying healthy stream sites and flagging sites that potentially have water quality concerns. This data may be included in federal and state water quality reports and will help target professional assessments and local restoration or conservation efforts in areas where they are most needed.

"People who enjoy recreation on local streams or the beauty and serenity of streams have a chance to help monitor and protect these waterways," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "I encourage individuals to volunteer as a WAVE monitor, where they can play an active, hands-on role in protecting our environment."

Citizen monitors will visit stream sites once per year, between July and September, to 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, a stream segment is assessed as fully supporting aquatic life. If sampling primarily finds "Least Wanted" organisms, the stream segment will be flagged for a potential investigation by DEC professional monitoring staff.

Citizen monitors can participate in the WAVE project in one of three ways. They can:

  • Serve as local coordinators who coach and coordinate their own team of WAVE participants. Local coordinator training sessions are one full day and include presentations and hands-on, in-stream demonstrations;
  • Sample independently. This requires half-day training sessions that are completed entirely in the stream; or
  • Join a local team led by a WAVE local coordinator. Training for this option is conducted by the local coordinator or group. The WAVE training sessions are rotated throughout the state's 17 major drainage basins on a five-year schedule, targeting basins that will be sampled by DEC's Stream Biomonitoring Unit the following year (the professional monitoring schedule can be found on DEC's website).

This year, WAVE training sessions are being offered in the Seneca/Oneida/Oswego, Allegheny, and Upper Hudson River basins. Local Coordinator and basic WAVE training sessions are scheduled for May and June at locations in Warrensburg, Warren County (May 8), Newcomb, Essex County (May 15), Ithaca, Tompkins County (May 22), Jamestown, Chautauqua County (May 28), Syracuse, Onondaga County (June 5), Salamanca, Cattaraugus County (June 11), Waterloo, Seneca County (June 19), Ballston Spa, Saratoga County (June 26). For more information or to register for a training session, contact WAVE Coordinator Alene Onion by email: wave@dec.ny.gov.

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