River Watch sampling curtailed

ADDISON COUNTY — In a letter from Matthew Witten, the organization’s managing director, and the rest of the board, Addison County River Watch let the community know that it has decided to significantly curtail its 2020 sampling season. 
“This is in part due to health concerns during the pandemic, but also because of budget woes at the state level that have resulted in the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s retraction of funding for lab services at the Vermont Agricultural and Environmental Lab in Randolph, where the organization normally sends their samples,” says Witten.
Instead of a sampling season according to traditional protocols and volunteer involvement, they have decided to focus primarily on communications and outreach. “We have an enormous amount of data from the last 25 years, and we have not fully analyzed, interpreted or deployed it,” says Witten. “We also have gaps in our system of communicating with all landowners who grant us access to their property. In the next few months, we will be addressing these two areas that have taken a back seat to managing sampling seasons.” 
Examples of projects to be undertaken include:
•  Reaching out to all landowners who grant access to their property, both to confirm that they still support sampling activities and also to explore ways in which River Watch can convey water quality results to them. 
•  Overhauling the website to be more user-friendly and replete with accessible information regarding Addison County watersheds, including a page aimed at better informing volunteers and a page directed toward landowners. 
Meanwhile, plans are in the works for the board to do a bare-minimal level of water quality monitoring beginning in July, focusing largely on recreational sites where E.coli levels are a prominent public concern. 
River Watch is also considering some activities in the field in small or family groups, such as riverbank cleanup efforts, riparian habitat assessments, a fall riparian buffer planting, and measuring water turbidity using turbidity-tubes at selected locations. Activities will be based on the Scott administration’s directives.

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