EPA Holds Webinar on HAB Monitoring and Response

On May 29th, EPA held a webinar entitled, “The Role of Citizen Scientists in Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Monitoring and Response.”  This was the first in a new series of free summer webinars about HABs. During the webinar, presenters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and New York’s Department of Environmental C­­­onservation discussed their programs and volunteer monitoring initiatives to collect samples and data on HABs.
TheNOAA volunteer monitoring program for coastal marine areas provides training and equipment for volunteers, including electronic microscopes that can transmit images in real time, and sample collection containers to send to NOAA if more analysis is needed.  NOAA conducted a fresh water pilot project with CDC from 2010 to 2012 in Minnesota and Wisconsin and is now expanding its program, in partnership with EPA, to freshwater ecosystems.  The new freshwaters program has not yet begun and sites have not yet been selected, though NOAA and EPA are open to suggestions for particular sites.  The program uses volunteers from middle schools to retired professional scientists and works directly with states and local health departments.
TheNew York State HAB program includes a volunteer network, a web site, social media outreach, public reporting forms and digital picture submissions, and public notifications of warnings and closures for particular waterbodies.  In addition, New York uses Clean Water Act nutrient criteria and TMDLs to address NPDES and NPS runoff that can cause HABs and also has laws in place prohibiting phosphorous in dishwasher detergent and restricting the use of lawn fertilizers.