Volunteers Monitor Buckeye Brook Watershed in the Winter

Volunteers collect water samples from Buckeye Brook for URI Watershed Watch analysis. Photo courtesy of URI Watershed Watch.

Most of the monitoring performed by the University of Rhode Island Watershed Watch Program (URIWW) is done from April to October. However, there are some issues that are only relevant in the winter. For example, glycols are a type of chemical sprayed on airplanes at T.F. Green Airport and other airports to remove ice before takeoff and prevent ice from forming during flight. These glycols could negatively impact natural ecosystems if washed into waterways with stormwater runoff. Since they are only used for a portion of the year, monitoring at ponds and streams near the airport is required during the winter.

With funding provided by RI Airport Corporation, URIWW in association with the Buckeye Brook Coalition started the Buckeye Brook Winter Monitoring Program on six sites in the Warwick area.  Volunteers performed biweekly monitoring for dissolved oxygen, temperature, and glycol. In addition, they sampled after every snow event from November 2013–April 2017, and collected monthly water samples for URIWW lab analyses.

Since the RI Airport Corporation installed new systems to collect more of the glycol from stormwater in 2014, this monitoring has been essential to track the efficacy of these systems and protect our waterways from pollution.