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Region 1 and 2: Enhancing Tribal and State Cyanobacteria Monitoring using Citizen Science

2020 Regional-State-Tribal Innovation Projects

Harmful algal blooms can produce biotoxins that adversely affect the health of people, animals, and ecosystems. Management efforts are hampered because tribal and state environmental agencies often lack information about the extent and locations of cyanobacteria blooms. Existing monitoring efforts are fragmented and use different monitoring methods and protocols, which makes the aggregation of data over geographic areas impossible. EPA and partner organizations launched the Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collaborative to overcome these barriers by working with citizen scientists, trained water professionals, and the general public to find and study cyanobacteria in waterbodies.

This project will engage several tribes and states in the Northeast U.S. to participate in the Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collaborative.  The project will demonstrate how public volunteers can contribute to improved scientific understanding of cyanobacteria blooms – including real time observations that report on bloom formation and collection of water quality samples. Water samples will be analyzed by the EPA regional laboratory using a multi-fluorescence scan to determine presence of green algae, diatoms, cyanobacteria, and other organisms.  The lab will also determine the presence of toxins produced by cyanobacteria.  Bloom occurrence, location, duration and frequency will be documented utilizing the EPA-approved bloomWatch phone APP.  The lab measurements will be used to develop a cost effective, predictive tool for cyanobacteria bloom forecasting. The project benefits include a more comprehensive regional assessment of cyanobacteria bloom characteristics and occurrence trends, and upgraded data visualization tools that can be used by the public and state/tribal environmental agencies.

Tribal Partners: Passamaquoddy Tribe of Maine, Maine Penobscot Indian Nation, Maine Band of Maliseet Indians, New York Seneca Nation of Indians

State Partners: Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection