The Water Resources Team has recently supported the expansion of citizen science programs in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. All three projects are part of the Gulf Star program and partially funded by the Hess Corporation. All three programs are focused on water quality and marine debris monitoring, data collection, and analysis.
In Florida, the Team expanded a community-based volunteer coastal water quality monitoring program in 2017 to three counties in the Florida panhandle. Led by a group out of the University of Florida, the goal is to fill data gaps identified by local governments and organizations. While the initial start of the project halted due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael, the project has now resumed. Their website is nearly complete, and the database is in the beta-testing phase. They are recruiting additional volunteers to collect samples in Bay, Gulf, and Santa Rosa counties, Florida.
In Louisiana, GOMA is partnering with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation to support its citizen science project. Their activities involve quantifying algal pollution and microplastics and measuring salinity and turbidity from sites of interest to participants. They’ve held six training seminars with the next one planned for February 2020. Some 72 volunteers conduct ongoing sampling with graduate student oversight of the data collection and analysis.
GOMA is partnering with the Galveston Bay Foundation to support their water quality monitoring program to include a component adding marine debris monitoring. Since initiating the program, they’ve held two training sessions. Their marine debris accumulations surveys began this month. They also began collaborating with the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in the Nurdle Patrol.