Our new community water testing lab becomes reality
Since 2005, implementation of a community water quality testing program has been one of the goals at the Watershed Council. In 2007 we instituted a volunteer water quality monitoring program at a handful of riverside sites from Longmeadow north to Gill, MA, using equipment on loan from the EPA. But this July we took a giant step forward—opening our brand new community water quality testing lab.
Three years ago, CRWC began the fundraising to be able to do water quality testing here in our main office building in Greenfield. Over the past year we received the grant and foundation support to at last make those grand plans reality. Though actual test sampling began a week earlier with water samples from the West River in Vermont, our new water quality testing lab had its official grand opening on July 22, 2010.
Our volunteer-based lab will now be a central site where communities and watershed organizations can bring water samples, have them processed, and quickly get critical water quality information posted for the public and public decision-makers. Staff cuts at MassDEP have eliminated the state’s ability to do bacteria source-tracking in our watershed. Prior to the EPA Targeted Watershed grant work by our partners, MassDEP was conducting regular bacteria monitoring on the Connecticut River only once every five years, with the reports taking five years to be published. Given its central location, our community site will be able to quickly process samples from selected sites in southern Vermont and New Hampshire, northern and central Massachusetts, and even north-central Connecticut.
Beginning this summer CRWC and partners will be conducting regular bacteria monitoring at sites on the main stem of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts, and along several tributaries with known or suspected bacteria problems. These data will fill in a large gaps in several watershed communities—offering them up-to-date information on whether a particular river or stream is safe to swim, fish, or paddle in. Our lab has the potential to make a big impact on water quality issues in the region. We’ll be able to get valuable information into communities including some of the watershed’s urban areas where kids may be tempted to cool off in summer streams where water quality may be impaired--or even dangerous, following rain events.
The lab will be operated by CRWC in collaboration with the Deerfield River Watershed Association. Construction of the lab was supported by grants to the CRWC from the Jessie B. Cox CLT - Cox Family Fund, at The Boston Foundation; Northeast Utilities Foundation; the Massachusetts Environmental Trust; TransCanada; four donor-advised funds at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts; Coca Cola of North America and the Coca Cola Foundation; Northfield Mountain Station of FirstLight Power Resources; Connect-a-Dock; and the FISA World Rowing Tour.
The four donor-advised funds at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts are the Dr. Anthony P. Lovell Memorial Fund, The Valley Charitable Trust Fund, The Nan and Matilda Heydt Fund, and The Dorothy Anne Wheat Naturalists' Fund, at the recommendation of the Springfield Naturalists Club.
Photo credits (above): CRWC Staff
Image Credits at Right - Illustrations: Bill Singleton; Photos: Elisabeth Cianciola, David Deen, ©Chris Hardie, ©Al Braden www.albradenphoto.com, River Music drawn by Tom Dudley - Greenfield Recorder, CRWC Staff.