Portsmouth, NH – The New Hampshire Coastal Program (NHCP) at the Department of Environmental Services kicks off a second season of monitoring coastal watersheds. From late August to October, volunteers from local watershed groups will sample data from rivers and streams on macroinvertebrates, or living organisms without a backbone that can be seen with the naked eye.
"Biomonitoring is an exciting and interactive sampling method that involves outdoor field work and bug sorting," said Liz Durfee, Coastal Volunteer Biological Assessment Program (CVBAP) Coordinator.
Volunteers from the Exeter River Local Advisory Committee, Cocheco River Watershed Coaltion, and Oyster River Watershed Association will become experts in stream dwelling invertebrate identification. Additionally, each group will receive a written report of the biomonitoring results, helping to contribute to an overall understanding of their local watersheds, or the area of land where water follows the same drainage patterns into rivers, lakes and streams.
Lab and field training sessions are being held in August for each watershed group’s volunteers.
Last year, volunteers from the Cocheco River Watershed Coalition sampled throughout the Cocheco River Watershed at ten sites, mostly located in Rochester and Farmington. This summer CVBAP takes on two additional watershed groups, the Oyster River Watershed Association and the Exeter River Local Advisory Committee. These groups will sample at eighteen sites in and around the Oyster River and Exeter River, respectively.
Biomonitoring incorporates the cumulative effects of water pollution while the results of a single water sample are limited to that specific date and time. Each macroinvertebrate species has a different ability to withstand certain degrees of pollution or poor water quality. Tolerant macroinvertebrates can thrive in polluted conditions while the intolerant are more sensitive. For example, mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies struggle to survive in polluted waters, while midges and aquatic worms are often found in these conditions.
"The beauty of the bugs is that they live there all the time. What you find gives you the big picture of what"s going on with the water," said Sally Soule, NHCP Nonpoint Source Pollution Coordinator.