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River Watch to hold water-sampling training on March 18

MIDDLEBURY — In the midst of March’s tug-o-war between winter and spring, the citizen-science group that monitors local rivers is gearing up for the 2017 season. Addison County River Watch Collaborative, an organization of about thirty volunteers and scientists, has been busy this winter reviewing last summer’s sampling data, meeting with local conservation commissions and other groups to discuss possible improvements in water quality, and strategizing about the best places to focus their water-sampling efforts this spring and summer.
Looking ahead to a busy coming season, River Watch will hold its annual Spring Training on Saturday, March 18 at the Addison County Regional Planning Commission offices in Middlebury. Bristol Bakery bagels, Vermont Coffee Company strong coffee, and fruit will be served starting at 8:30 a.m., with the actual training from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The Collaborative welcomes new volunteers as well as experienced stream samplers.
“We welcome anyone in Addison County interested in water quality to come to this event,” said Matt Witten, managing director of the Addison County River Watch Collaborative. “We have a higher than normal number of sites to monitor this year, so we encourage hearty souls to join us for early morning sampling once per month from April to September.”
Witten said that in the last few years, Addison County River Watch has “enjoyed a very high level of data validity and this is largely due to the attentiveness and thoroughness of our volunteers.” During the training, River Watch staff and board members explain the importance of the various pollutants that participating volunteers sample for — such as phosphorus and E.coli — and go over the protocols for proper sampling.
The mission of River Watch is to monitor and assess the condition of Addison County’s creeks, streams and rivers over the long term, to raise public awareness of the values and functions of local watersheds, and to cultivate partnerships that support water quality stewardship.
The New Haven River and Little Otter Creek are the “focus watersheds” in 2016-2017, meaning monitoring along those rivers and their tributaries have been intensified this coming season as well as last year. Witten said that there would be some time during the training to summarize the results from the 2016 sampling from the two focus watersheds.
During the upcoming training on March 18, participants will go over the routines for preparing sample bottles, collecting samples and filling out data forms. All the monitoring that the group’s volunteers conducts must be done according to EPA-approved protocols. Because River Watch carefully adheres to these prescribed methods, the state and federal governments approve the validity of the data and the information can be used to guide management decisions.
The ACRWC Training is on Saturday, March 18 at the Addison County Regional Planning Commission offices in Middlebury (14 Seminary St.).
For more information, contact Matt Witten, 434-3236 or  [email protected].

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