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SUNY ESF looking for participants to help NY rate creeks, streams

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Scientists at SUNY ESF in Syracuse want help from citizens to determine the health of waterways in central New York.

The Citizen Recreational Evaluation of Environmental Quality, or CREEQ project, looks to see how accurate citizens are in assessing a waterway; in this particular study, creeks or streams. Dr. Andrea Feldpausch-Parker is leading the project and said it will work with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to see if citizen observations match up with actual water quality. And she said it doesn’t only focus on more widely known spots.

"It could be people hiking in the woods, or people who have their favorite fishing spot,” Feldpausch-Parker said. “So, it’s not just in high-traffic areas. It can be in areas that are people's favorite locations to go.”

To take part, individuals perform a visual evaluation of a stream and its recreational viability, and enter observations at the projects website. Participants can also upload photos and include the location of the waterway. There is also a smartphone app that can be used. 

“And the really cool thing is when you fill out a survey on your smartphone, it geolocates you,” Feldpausch-Parker said. “We’re able to go back to that exact same spot and we’ll do the water quality testing and that way we can test the public observation to the actual water quality.” 

Surveys continue until the end of August and cover a 50-mile radius around Syracuse. The DEC will follow up and if citizen evaluations match up with their results, these reports will be able to be used in the state’s water quality monitoring efforts.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.