DEC Calls on "Citizen Scientists"

Jun 14, 2012

For decades Citizen Scientists have helped  answer serious scientific questions and provide researchers in various fields with vital data that may otherwise have gone uncollected and never catalogued.As Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports, one New York State agency has rolled out a program that depends on ordinary people to sign up and participate:

It's no secret that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has been short-staffed the last few years: the DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program is recruiting and educating citizen-scientists to collect water quality data from streams and rivers in the Hudson River watershed.

The DEC has rolled out what it calls "WAVE" --- the Wadeable Assessments by Volunteer Evaluators program...  WAVE data will be used to augment the work of the DEC Stream Biomonitoring program, which samples streams and rivers across the state to create an inventory of stream water quality. Based on the diverse waterways within the state, New York is divided into 17 watersheds and each is sampled on a five-year rotating schedule.

Data collected using WAVE protocols will be included in federal and state water quality reports and will help to target professional assessments and local restoration efforts to where they are most needed.

WAVE co-ordinator Alena Onion tells WAMC says citizen monitors who visit streams July through September will collect and identify insects and other small organisms.

Onion says that if four or more of the so-called “Most Wanted” organisms are found, then the stream segment is unimpaired and fully supports aquatic life. If mostly “Least Wanted” organisms are found, then the stream segment will be flagged for possible investigation by DEC.

Jon Rosales is an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at St. Lawrence University - he says citizen-scientists are an invaluable resource for research programs like WAVE.

Information sessions are scheduled in June through August at locations in Albany on June 23 and July 21, in Millbrook on June 9 and August 18, in Utica on June 10 and in Cornwall on July 7 and August 4. To register for a session, see SurveyMonkey link listed in the right column. For more information on the WAVE program, contact the WAVE Coordinator, Alene Onion at 518-402-8166 or

The Hudson River Estuary Program is a project of the NYS Environmental Protection Fund. For more information, visit DEC’s website.