Kings Park High School students learn first-hand exactly what's floating in Nissequogue River
Smithtown, NY, Sept. 18, 2009 – Volunteers around Long Island Sound are going to the shore or to a river, to a stream or to a pond in the Long Island Sound watershed this month to test the water and learn about the impact of water pollution. This endeavor is part of World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD), a collaborative effort of many local and international organizations with one purpose – to build public awareness, and educate and involve youth and volunteers around the world about water quality and the importance of protecting this valuable resource.
Although the official date of World Water Monitoring Day is September 18, organizations can arrange events and enter research data they collected on the WWMD’s Web site through the end of the year. Organized by the Water Environmental Federation and International Water Association, WWMD’s sponsors include the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Geological Survey.
As part of this worldwide endeavor, students from Kings Park High School’s Student Environmental Action Society (SEAS) will sample water at the Nissequogue River in Smithtown, NY. This group will be lead by Janine Bendicksen, a environmental educator at Sweetbriar Nature Center and a water monitoring volunteer for the Sierra Club. Janine and Kristen Gelhaus, a student from Stony Brook University, monitor water quality at the Nissequogue River every other week as part of the LI Water Sentinels program. The Sierra Club started this group of volunteers to test water quality on the south and north shore estuaries of Long Island. The purpose of this testing is to add baseline data to a spreadsheet that is online for the public, for schools, for government offices, and public facilities. This data is essential to understanding the problems that face our waterways.
The Long Island Sound watershed extends along the northern shore of Long Island and Westchester County and stretches from the Connecticut coast up to the corner of Canada. Over 20 million people live within 50 miles of the Sound, so it is easy to understand how the everyday actions of these individuals can really add up and impact the quality of our waterways.
For WWMD the Long Island Sound Study (LISS) will hold water monitoring events at the Bronx River in the Bronx; the Nissequoque River in Kings Park, Long Island; Sunken Meadow Creek in Smithtown, Long Island; the Mill River in Stamford, Connecticut; and the Oyster River in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Volunteers at these sites will join thousands of volunteers who will sample water quality in locations across the globe to obtain measurements of pH, salinity, temperature and turbidity, and who will report their findings on the WWMD Web site, www.wwmd.org.
The Long Island Sound Study is committed to protecting and restoring the Long Island Sound and encourages citizens to take active steps to help. “Improving water quality is one of our main priorities”, says Mark Tedesco, the director of the U.S. EPA Long Island Sound Office, and management committee chair of the Long Island Sound Study. “World Water Monitoring Day is an excellent way to promote education and personal stewardship. It’s great to see so many groups involved.”
Water quality can be negatively impacted by stormwater runoff and polluted runoff is a serious problem for most water resources. Pollutants, such as trash, pesticides, fertilizer and oil accumulate on our streets, driveways and other hard impermeable surfaces around our neighborhoods. When it rains the stormwater mixes with these pollutants and carries them into waterways, such as the Long Island Sound. Polluted runoff may flow directly into the Sound, or flow first into storm drains which lead the flow into rivers, streams, ponds and lakes, and ultimately into coastal waterbodies.
“People don’t realize that anything they dump on the ground, such as pesticides, lawn fertilizers or cigarette butts WILL end up in Long Island Sound”, says Larissa Graham, NYSG's Long Island Sound Outreach Coordinator. “Today we hope to educate our volunteers about ways they can reduce polluted runoff.”
This is the first year that the LISS is joining with other groups to sponsor World Water Monitoring Day events. LISS partners include the EPA, the states of New York and Connecticut, interstate and local government agencies, industries, universities and community groups.