Archive for the ‘Environmental Protection Agency’ tag

River Keeping in New Mexico

By April 25th, 2017 at 9:00 am | Comment

Volunteers across the country participate in River Keeper programs. Photo: Virginia State Parks CC BY 2.0

River Keeper. Watershed Keeper. There’s something poetic—maybe a bit Celtic—about these terms, which in the world of citizen science refer to someone monitoring a waterway for soil erosion, contaminants, and loss of biodiversity. Across the United States, with sonorous names like Willamette River Keepers and Chattahoochee River Keepers, citizen scientists are keeping watch over the environmental health of our rivers, lakes, and estuaries.

Where I live in southwestern New Mexico, the Silver City Watershed Keepers are mostly teenagers—a high school class and their dedicated teacher, Maddie Alfero, organized by a local environmental group, Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP), with support from the New Mexico Environmental Department. A GRIP staff member, A.J. Sandoval, coordinates the program. A retired Environmental Department staff member, Dave Menzie, acts as their Quality Assurance Officer. Read the rest of this entry »

Collaborative Citizen Science for Clean Water Management

By March 15th, 2017 at 6:46 pm | Comment

By Lishka Arata, Conservation Educator at Point Blue

Volunteers collecting a sample from the lake to examine under the microscope. Photo: CMC

Despite the current administration’s efforts to roll back the Clean Water Act and dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, interest and participation is growing in a new EPA- and stakeholder-led citizen science project that aims to inform clean water management.

The Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collaborative has been gathering steam since 2010, when Hilary Snook, EPA Senior Water Quality Scientist, began receiving calls from state water quality agencies with complaints from their constituents about cyanobacteria blooms occurring in their waters.

A collaborative workgroup was formed between New England state water quality scientists and the EPA in an effort to create something that was stakeholder-inclusive and educational for those concerned about and involved in addressing cyanobacteria blooms and the water quality issues that surround them. Read the rest of this entry »

Enter EPA’s Smart City Air Challenge!

By October 19th, 2016 at 10:30 am | Comment

epa

What if you had access to air quality data — minute-by- minute — from hundreds of locations in your community at the same time? How would you manage that data– and how would you share it with your local residents? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is offering two communities $40,000 each to help figure that out.

Currently, environmental agencies evaluate air quality using stationary monitors that measure pollutants in a few locations selected to be representative of air quality in each metropolitan area. But new technology is rapidly developing that make the devices for measuring air quality less expensive – and portable. While they’re not yet suitable for regulatory use, these new sensors offer communities several benefits. People can use these sensors –which generally cost less than $2,000 — to easily collect highly localized, real-time data. In addition, low-cost sensors can become a part of the “Internet of Things” (IoT), streaming data to the Internet so people can access it in real time. With this data, communities can harness analytical tools to understand local air pollution levels and their environment.

A factory smokestack in New Jersey emits pollutants into the atmosphere. Photo Credit: UN Photo/John Isaac (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A factory smokestack in New Jersey emits pollutants into the atmosphere.
Photo Credit: UN Photo/John Isaac (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Smart City Air Challenge invites communities to submit strategies that describe how they will deploy the sensors and manage the data. In order to qualify, a local government agency will need to partner with other parties that provide services, such as sensor manufacturers, data management agencies, environmental organizations, and citizen groups. Communities can range from neighborhoods to counties and tribes. Applications will have to describe the level of accuracy and precision of the sensors and how they will ensure these attributes.

Join the challenge today and use the power of big data and citizen science to understand local environmental conditions. The challenge launched on August 30 and applicants have until October 28 to submit their strategies. Winners will be announced in the fall of 2016. EPA will evaluate the strategies and award prizes of up to $40,000 each to two communities. After a year, EPA will evaluate the accomplishments and collaboration of the two communities and award up to an additional $10,000 to each community. To learn more, visit the Smart City Air Challenge website and submit applications by October 28.

Citizen science pushes Hawai’i Department of Health to act on beach pollution

By October 7th, 2016 at 10:48 am | Comment

For the past seven years, citizen scientist volunteers with the Kaua’i chapter of the Surfrider Foundation Beach Watch Task Force have been testing the waters at 27 recreational sites along the Kaua’i coastline. This summer they achieved a victory when the Hawai’i Department of Health (HDOH) finally acknowledged the concerning levels of pollution in local streams and beaches. Read the rest of this entry »