CFE recently received funding from the Davis Conservation Foundation to enhance the monitoring of surface water bodies in New Hampshire’s North Country. In 2011, we will be working on developing a network of volunteers serving to help with water quality monitoring.
New Hampshire relies on volunteers to help monitor water quality through the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ (DES) Volunteer Lake Assessment Program (VLAP) and Volunteer River Assessment Program (VRAP). CFE’s Environmental Research Laboratory works with VLAP and VRAP volunteers providing sampling equipment, analyzing water samples, and reporting the results to both DES and volunteers. “We provide a convenient location for volunteers in the North Country and Lakes Region,” said Aaron Johnson, senior laboratory technician.
Of the numerous lakes and rivers in the North Country, only a small number of these are involved in the VLAP and VRAP programs. Increasing the number of water bodies being actively monitored will help state officials track their health. Monitoring surface water quality is an important long term effort to understand the health of our environment. Changes in land cover, atmospheric deposition, stormwater runoff, recreational use, and development patterns can all cause rapid changes in the quality of our surface waters. The North Country remains a relatively undeveloped part of the state, but without adequate data, there is no way to identify lakes or rivers under threat of degradation or to track general water quality trends in the area. Continuous annual water quality monitoring has proven to be an effective and relatively low cost means of detecting environmental degradation early reducing costly mitigation measures.
Volunteers typically sample lakes and rivers one to three times per summer. A variety of tests are conducted on site and samples are also sent to a laboratory for further analysis. Sampling can take approximately half a day and a boat is needed for lake sampling. The data from the water samples become part of a statewide database that is used to report on the health of our water bodies as required by the Clean Water Act. The data are also publically available.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a water quality monitoring volunteer, please contact either Aaron Johnson at the Environmental Research Laboratory, 603-535-3269, firstname.lastname@example.org or June Hammond Rowan at PSU’s Center for the Environment, 603-535-3218, email@example.com.