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Volunteers Needed in the Berkshires for Water Quality Monitoring - Training Session April 1, 2017

April 01, 2017

Help monitor the water quality of tributaries in the Housatonic and Hoosic watersheds this year. Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, with two watershed partners - the Hoosic River Watershed Association (HooRWA) and the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) invite interested individuals to a training on Saturday, April 1 from 10am – Noon at the Bill Laston Memorial Park, Rte 7 Lanesborough.  

Once a month, trained volunteers will collect water samples at designated locations on the Green River in the Hoosic Watershed and Wahconah Falls Brook and the Southwest Branch of the Housatonic River in the Housatonic Watershed. The samples will be tested to determine bacteria levels. Currently, all three tributaries are partly or wholly listed as “impaired” by the state of Massachusetts due to high bacteria levels in testing conducted several years ago. This means that they are currently not designated as safe for recreational activities such as swimming. Since this original determination, however, significant changes in land use have occurred adjacent to each of these rivers.  If the results from this year’s water quality testing show sufficiently low levels of bacteria, it will allow the tributaries’ status to be reconsidered by the state of Massachusetts and may allow these tributaries to be deemed safe again.

Volunteers will need to be available for one morning, once a month, from April through October. The time commitment each sampling day is about half an hour and is usually scheduled before 9am. The day chosen for each sampling will be weather-dependent as the sample must be collected following a period of dry weather. Volunteers must have transportation to their water sampling site(s) and must be physically able to collect the sample(s). HVA and HooRWA will provide all the equipment needed for the sampling and will collect and deliver the samples to the Premier Laboratory, Lee, for analysis.

In the Hoosic watershed, there will be eight sampling sites along a 12.5 mile segment of the Green River, which were most recently tested in 2012. This most recent testing was very positive, showing that bacteria levels were significantly lower on this segment of the Green River. In the Housatonic watershed, on the Wahconah Falls Brook, samples will be collected at four sites from Wahconah Falls State Park to Center Pond and on the Southwest Branch from the Richmond Pond Dam to the confluence with the Housatonic River in Pittsfield (Clapp Park.). These sites are the same sites tested in 2002 – 2007.

Funding for this water quality testing program is authorized under the federal Clean Water Act Section 604(b) which provides funding for states to provide financial assistance to regional and local planning authorities with water quality assessment and management planning projects. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection administers the Section 604(b) grant process.

For more information and to register for the training, please contact Dennis Regan, HVA Berkshire Program Director at (413) 298-7024 or dregan@hvatoday.org. For information about the sample sites along the Green River in the Hoosic River watershed, contact Steve McMahon, Executive Director of HooRWA at (413) 458-2742 or s.mcmahon@hoorwa.org.

About Housatonic Valley Association
Founded in 1941, HVA is uniquely dedicated to protecting the entire Housatonic River Watershed. The watershed includes about 2,000 square miles of land stretching from western Massachusetts through western Connecticut and eastern New York to Long Island Sound. HVA’s offices are in Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut; Stockbridge, Massachusetts and Wassaic, New York. For more information, visit hvatoday.org.

About Hoosic River Watershed Association

The Hoosic River Watershed Association is [a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization] dedicated to the conservation, restoration and enjoyment of the Hoosic River and its watershed through education, research, and advocacy.  For more information, visit hoorwa.org.

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