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New Jersey Center for Water Science and Technology

Training More Eyes on NJ Water Quality

Careful sampling and analysis is crucial to maintaining clean water sources and cleaning up polluted ones, but keeping constant track of water quality across thousands of miles of rivers and streams in New Jersey is a daunting task – one that would be almost impossible to do properly without crowdsourcing the work to a largely volunteer network.

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Students examining soil sample from local river
Students examining soil sample from local river

A new collaboration called the NJ Watershed Watch Network, which describes itself as a “service provider for community-based water quality monitoring groups in New Jersey,” recently convened a brainstorming session of “water watchers” from the region to compare notes, share resources, and help each other out. The NJDEP runs its own water quality assessments, but due to manpower limitations, these are only completed every few years, and often do not include the smaller waterways.

StreamWatch volunteer Patti Maslanka and her family have been monitoring Cruser Brook for nine years. Photo courtesy of the Maslanka family.

So NJDEP has enlisted the help of the Watershed Institute to spearhead this effort to coordinate water monitoring by volunteer groups, and to provide access to the training, networking and resources to help those they call “citizen scientists” do the job well.

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