Citizen-scientists needed for water monitoring program

Jan 29, 2014

Thomaston — With the promise of spring around the corner, the Georges River Tidewater Association is gearing up for its 2014 sampling season and would like to invite the community to an open house and volunteer recruitment event  Saturday, Feb. 15, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its riverside office at 62 Water St.

Building upon efforts that began in 1990, GRTA has established a citizen-scientist water monitoring program for the St. George, Weskeag, and Medomak River estuaries. The St. George has a reputation as a “clam factory,” with intertidal conditions that are ideal for mudflat development and clam spat recruitment.

“Data collected by our monitors indicate declines in water quality that could place stress on species such as the soft-shell clam. The clam is the lifeblood of our estuary and a significant contributor to the local and statewide economy. Clam spat (baby clams) appear vulnerable to drops in pH, and the effects of ocean acidification are unfortunately likely to be most pronounced in the mudflat habitats where clams are found," GRTA Steering Committee member Jon Eaton said in a news release.

GRTA provides volunteers with training and equipment to sample water quality from one of 14 locations accessible from the shore. Pairs of volunteers visit their sites once a month in April, May, June and October and twice a month in July, August, and September to take water samples and test them for pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and salinity.

Water quality monitor and Steering Committee member Sherry Frazer said, “Ocean acidification is an overwhelming global problem. It is easy to feel discouraged and helpless. Water monitoring is a way to take the pulse of the St. George River and to help scientists track how it is doing. In the process, monitors learn new skills and spend time along the banks of a beautiful river."

For more information about GRTA and how to volunteer, contact GRTA’s Volunteer Coordinator Eric Sroka at 832-1273 or visit georgesrivertidewater.org to learn more and submit a volunteer application.

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