#CitizenScience w/ the @NewtownCreek Alliance [full video recap]

The Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA) pooled together Spotlight on Citizen Science on Newtown Creek where members presented various projects we are collaborating on. The evening was hosted by LaGuardia Community College and the topics ranged from air and water quality to soil and habitat revitalization. I had my hads full handling the flip cam so didn’t take any notes but here are some brief descriptions provided by the NCA followed by the presentations, which speak for themselves. I have included text from the event announcement sent out by the NCA as a breif description to each presentation.

First up, Kate Zidar, Director of the Newtown Creek Alliance offers a few remarks before the presentations begin.

Dr. Sarah Durand and  Dr. Holly Porter-Morgan will show student work from LaGCC  that “illustrates the reverberating impacts of CSO discharges on several water quality variables”.

Water Quality Monitoring – Caitlyn Nichols from the Interstate Environmental Commission recounted how she spent last summer sampling at the CSO outfalls on Newtown Creek and lived to tell the tale. As well as more monitoring on the horizon.  The North Brooklyn Boat Club did water quality monitoring last year In conjunction with the New York City Water Trails Association, and made a sweet mural to interpret the results. (see the next presentation)

Flora and Fauna – North Brooklyn Boat Club and NCA have been collaborating on documenting the existing critters along Newtown Creek, and we are ready to share some of these observations.  We will show results of survey work in the intertidal zone as well as a growing bird list that we developed over the course of the last year. These observations will springboard into designing the edge to support more life and survive a bump from a barge here and there.

Garbage Alert

Air Quality – Researchers and engineers from HabitatMap, New York University, and Carnegie Mellon University have partnered to pilot a community health study examining the relationship between air pollution and human health using wearable sensors and smartphones. The study will use the AirCasting platform to examine how exposure to carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter impact heart rate variability and blood oxygen levels. They are seeking five volunteers to participate in the pilot health study. In order to be eligible, volunteers must live or work within one mile of Newtown Creek and be physically active in the neighborhood. Interested parties or anyone who would like to learn more should contact Michael Heimbinder, Executive Director of HabitatMap and Chair of the Newtown Creek Alliance, at info@habitatmap.org. This work is supported by a “My Air, My Health” Challenge Grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency, National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, and the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Weather Monitoring – In order to better understand how and when the sewers overflow, NCA is collaborating with the S.W.I.M. Coalition,  Queens and Brooklyn Public Libraries and Leif Percifeld to install and monitor weather stations throughout the Newtown Creek watershed. The project got started with support from the Hudson River Foundation’s Newtown Creek Fund, and our work has been extended through the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation. We have added a gauge to our website that indicates if there has been enough rain to potentially cause combined sewer overflows…we are looking for volunteers to help calibrate the system and work with the data!

Bioremediation – Out of NCA’s Bioremediation Workgroup, we have Smiling Hogshead Ranch and The Fortune Society teaming up to offer a bioremediation job force program this year on the Ranch site, two blocks away from both the Newtown Creek and the elevated Long Island Expressway. Soil tests will likely take place later this winter with analysis and planting in spring. The multi-year plan is to train multiple groups in all stages of bioremediation planning and implementation.

Post Sandy Testing – NCA is aggregating a one-stop shop for post-Sandy soil and water sampling that we conducted along with results from private companies, EPA, OSHA and more. This is taking the form of an online  redux of all the sampling activity that occurred, and potentially a mapping tool.


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