Coordinated Volunteer Pathogen Monitoring Program

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In Spring 2016 IEC, EPA and NYSDEC began discussing the need for a coordinated volunteer pathogen monitoring effort in the shared marine waters of the Interstate Environmental District (IED). In 2016, IEC provided laboratory space, field equipment, as well as QA/QC support oversight to two citizen science groups to perform monitoring in lower New York Harbor funded through a NY-NJ HEP sponsored RFP. NYSDEC expressed an interest in expanding this type of effort into a collaborative volunteer monitoring program for the shared marine waters of the IED, which IEC piloted in 2017. The effort recognizes state and EPA priorities and is modeled on volunteer programs already in place but also emphasizes synergies, efficiencies, the desire of the public for consistent efforts in these shared waters. The program targets areas which are not routinely monitored by regulatory agencies or other established monitoring programs. In addition to routine water quality parameters to be analyzed in-situ by volunteers, the program involves collection of samples that are transported to the IEC laboratory and analyzed for parameters of interest to marine shared waters used for recreation (e.g. pathogen indicators). IEC provides assistance with sampling design development, QAPP development, field sampling training, and provides QA/QC oversight for the project. Laboratory analyses are conducted in the IEC laboratory located in Staten Island, NY by IEC staff. Through the use of IEC’s laboratory and training provided by IEC staff, citizen scientists gain knowledge about water quality monitoring and sample collection protocols necessary for the generation of high-quality data. IEC also participates in a Citizen Science Workgroup coordinated by EPA Region 2’s Division of Environmental Science and Assessment (DESA).