SUNY Cobleskill has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Hudson River Estuary Program to conduct the third year of a long-term study of the water quality in the Mohawk River and its tributaries.
The study, conducted in partnership with water quality watchdog Riverkeeper, has contributed to a better understanding of the river’s health and the effects of contaminants.
“This work exemplifies SUNY Cobleskill’s commitment to hands-on, real-life learning,” said Neil Law, Assistant Professor of Natural Sciences & Mathematics at SUNY Cobleskill. “Our students gain experience collecting and processing samples, then reading and interpreting the data. The data then becomes a tool that empowers the public and municipalities to make better decisions regarding use (such as recreation) and the health of the river.”
Data gathered in the past two years has helped shed light on the effects of a series of large sewage spills in Amsterdam as well as the overall causes and effects of pollution in the river. The most recent findings were presented by SUNY Cobleskill Associate Professor of Biology & Chemistry Barbara Brabetz at the Mohawk Watershed Symposium on March 17 at Union College. That report led to a call in The Daily Gazette for public action on clean water initiatives.
As in previous years, the study will be conducted in a series of sampling blitzes between May and October that cover the entire 120-mile length of the Mohawk River in a single day. SUNY Cobleskill students and Professors Law and Brabetz will join Riverkeeper to collect the samples and assist in analysis after the sampling runs.
The project aims to determine whether the water in the river is suitable for recreation, pinpoint pollution “hot spots,” and examine long-term trends. The data is being made available to the public, particularly to municipalities for use in infrastructure planning.
The grant includes funding for one SUNY Cobleskill student to be employed full-time through the summer as well as two or three part-time students to assist with sampling and laboratory analysis. In addition to SUNY Cobleskill interns, students from Middleburgh High School and the Madison Oneida BOCES New Visions Program in Utica have assisted in the sampling runs.
This year, SUNY Cobleskill and Riverkeeper are seeking volunteers in the Rome and Utica areas to help collect samples. Anyone who is interested is encouraged to contact Riverkeeper Water Quality Program Director Dan Shapley at email@example.com (include “Mohawk sampling” in the subject line).
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