Photo courtesy of URI Watershed Watch.

Volunteer monitoring through URI’s Watershed Watch program (URIWW) includes measuring water clarity, algae concentration, dissolved oxygen, temperature, alkalinity, pH, nutrients, and bacteria at each site. URIWW trains volunteers on proper monitoring procedures to ensure high-quality data and provides them with equipment and supplies. In the field, volunteers adhere to monitoring schedules, taking readings with easy-to-use tools and chemical field test kits. Water samples are also collected and delivered to URIWW for additional testing.

In 2015, URIWW, with support from the URI Coastal Institute, transitioned then 25 years of data from Excel spreadsheets stored on a single office computer to a searchable database accessible to the public. Now, these data are readily available to anyone who requests it and URIWW hopes to launch a web-based platform in the coming years.

Non-governmental organizations lead additional volunteer water quality monitoring projects in Rhode Island. These include the Surfrider Foundation’s Blue Water Task Force that collects monthly samples at popular recreational areas and tests for bacteria. The Blackstone River Coalition conducts volunteer monitoring in the Blackstone River watershed, including physical, chemical and biological testing (such as pH, temperature, nitrates, and habitat surveys).

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