Plymouth State University project will help provide insight into NH water quality

July 16th, 2013 by Lynn

    By DAN SEUFERT
    Union Leader Correspondent

    Left to right, Plymouth State University environmental science and policy graduate students Ashley Hyde and Matt Bartley collect water samples in the Pemigewasset River in Plymouth last week. (COURTESY)

    PLYMOUTH — On Tuesday, about 50 volunteers will be in various spots around the state taking a “snapshot” of the water quality in New Hampshire’s rivers and streams.

    They won’t be using cameras, they’ll be taking water samples as part of a new Plymouth State University-led project aimed at improving the understanding of the state’s water resources and providing data to be used by resource managers, state agencies, researchers, and educators.

    Each volunteer will collect water samples that will be sent to PSU and University of New Hampshire laboratories for detailed chemical analysis.

    PSU is believed to be the first to organize such an effort in the state, according to Bruce Lyndes, PSU’s media relations manager.

    “Each sampling day involves volunteers carefully collecting filtered water samples from their site,” said Errin Volitis, a research technician with PSU’s Center for the Environment, who is helping to coordinate the effort.

    “The samples are then frozen for storage and sent to a laboratory for analysis. PSU has provided each volunteer with sampling supplies and instructions, but the volunteers have made the project possible.”Mark Green, an assistant professor of hydrology at PSU who developed the project concept, said the snapshots will give researchers a better idea of how the state’s water resources respond to different land uses.

    “The data from this project will be extremely valuable in creating new understanding about our water conditions in New Hampshire,” Green said.

    The sampling is part of a larger project funded by the National Science Foundation through a cooperative agreement with the New Hampshire Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

    Since 2012, state-of-the-art sensors have been recording temperature, electrical conductivity, and river height continuously at each of the water sampling sites. The network has been designed to include all watershed sizes, shapes and land uses, which are geographically dispersed across New Hampshire.

    The network is coordinated by a group of researchers, staff and students at PSU and implemented by a broad group of partners, including educators, researchers, government agencies, non-profit organizations and citizen scientists.

    Data from the sampling project will be analyzed this fall and results will be then be shared.

    “We can’t thank (the volunteers) enough,” said Volitis.

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