Volunteers wanted to test river waters for pollution

MIDDLEBURY — Smack in the middle of March’s lion and lamb, the Addison County River Watch Collaborative is holding its annual spring training on Saturday, March 17, from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Addison County Regional Planning Commission offices at 14 Seminary Street in Middlebury. Bristol Bakery bagels, Vermont Coffee Company strong coffee, and fruit will be served starting at 8:30 a.m.
River Watch, a local organization of about thirty volunteers and scientists, is looking ahead to a busy water sampling season. This year the citizen-science group will intensify its monitoring of Lewis Creek and the mighty Lemon Fair River.
“During spring and summer months we fan out in teams of energetic and conservation-minded people to collect water samples at about thirty sites on six different rivers,” said Matt Witten, managing director of the Collaborative. “And to prepare for that task, we ask volunteers to join us on a Saturday morning in March to learn the sampling protocols, share some coffee and bagels, and even catch the world premiere of our brand-new video,” Witten added with a smile.
From April to September — one early Wednesday morning per month — about three dozen trained River Watch volunteers collect water samples. The Collaborative enthusiastically welcomes new volunteers as well as experienced stream samplers.
River Watch has been monitoring waterways for over 25 years. The group’s mission 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.
During 2016-2017, the New Haven River and Little Otter Creek were the collaborative’s focus watersheds and monitoring along those rivers and their tributaries had been intensified for those two years. Witten said that there would be some time during the training to summarize the results from the 2016-2017 sampling from the two focus watersheds.
During training on March 17, 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.
For more information, please contact Matt Witten at 802-434-3236 or [email protected].

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