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Volunteers needed to help monitor water quality in Lake Erie with simple-to-use technology

Hemlock Creek Water Testing
Posted at 10:35 AM, Jul 20, 2020

CLEVELAND — Cleveland Metroparks is launching a three-year project that relies on the participation of residents to monitor water quality and contribute to the health of their watersheds.

The project, called “The Smart Citizen Science Initiative,” will harness the work of volunteer monitoring programs from Ohio, New York and Michigan across the Lake Erie Basin.

The first wave of data collection devices, called spectrometers, will be accessible and easy to use, making it a user-friendly experience for people of all ages, from kids to adults, to monitor the region’s freshwater resource.

These devices can measure phosphates and nitrates that can cause harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. Those who use the device can take readings and with an iPhone app to identify sources of pollution.

On July 22, a webinar will be held by the Cleveland Water Alliance to show how community members and organizational partners can contribute to the project in 2021.

The spectrometers are currently being used by Cleveland Metroparks volunteers, and in seven Lake Erie communities as part of a 2020 pilot.

Initially, the initiative will focus on nutrient loading and harmful algae to better combat the occurrence of algal blooms.

“We are proud to be a part of this collaboration that will ultimately improve the quality of our region’s most significant natural resource, Lake Erie,” said Cleveland Metroparks Chief Operating Officer Joseph Roszak in a news release. “The ability to tap into our citizen scientists and start to engage the next generation of conservationists is an important step to protecting our watersheds for generations to come.”

According to a 2015 report to the International Joint Commission, excess nutrients, stormwater, and algal blooms are expected to have an estimated $1.3 billion economic impact on the Lake Erie basin.

“This project is a terrific opportunity to get the wider community involved in what we focus on every day: applying technology to water to drive economic development and spark innovation around water," said Cleveland Water Alliance president and executive director Bryan Stubbs in a news release.

Register for the program and webinar, click here.