While DEC regularly receives data and information from the public to consider in its water quality assessments, the WAVE Program provides information about how to collect data most useful to the agency. WAVE data is used to augment the work of the DEC Stream Biomonitoring Unit, which samples streams and rivers across the state to create an inventory of stream water quality.
"Responsible environmental stewardship starts with everyday residents who have an interest in protecting and conserving natural resources we all rely on," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. "I invite volunteers to register for this worthwhile training to work alongside DEC professionals to identify water quality concerns."
Citizen scientists provide DEC with valuable information to assist in identifying healthy stream sites and flagging sites that potentially have water quality concerns. This data is included in federal and state water quality reports and helps to target professional assessments and local restoration and conservation efforts to where they are most needed.
This year, citizen scientists can participate in the WAVE project in one of two ways: citizen scientists can join a local WAVE group lead by a trained local coordinator or they can sample independently. For the first time, DEC is offering training sessions for local coordinators so that they may train and coordinate their own team of WAVE participants. Citizen scientists working under a trained local coordinator do not need to attend a WAVE training session. Citizen scientists who wish to work independently must attend a WAVE training session.
Citizen monitors will visit stream sites once per year, anytime between July and September, and collect macroinvertebrates - insects and other small organisms - from the rocks and rubble on the stream bottom. If six or more of the "Most Wanted" organisms are found, the stream segment is assessed as having no known impacts and fully supporting aquatic life. If mostly "Least Wanted" organisms are found, then the stream segment will be flagged for possible investigation by professionals.
The WAVE training sessions are rotated throughout the state's 17 major drainage basins on a five-year schedule, targeting those basins that will be sampled by the DEC Stream Biomonitoring Unit in the following year (see the professional monitoring schedule). This year, DEC is offering WAVE training sessions in the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and Mohawk River basins.
Local Coordinator and basic WAVE training sessions are scheduled for May and June at locations in the following counties:
- Schenectady County, Alplaus, (May 17)
- Wayne County, Huron, (May 23)
- Jefferson County, Ellisburg, (May 24)
- Erie County, West Seneca, (May 31)
- Chautauqua County, Village of Westfield, (June 1)
- Schoharie County, Esperance, (June 14)
- Wyoming County, Wyoming, (June 21)
- Oneida County, New Hartford, (June 29)