Community Science on the Schuylkill River

The nonprofit Schuylkill River Greenways, in partnership with Berks Nature, Bartram’s Garden, The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Stroud Water Research Center, and Princeton Hydro, is kicking off a Water Quality Monitoring Project for the Schuylkill River on World Habitat Day, Monday, October 5, 2020. This project, focused on the main stem of the river from Berks Nature in Reading to Bartram’s Garden in southwest Philadelphia, is aimed to document the current ecological status and health of the river and seeks to engage and educate a diverse set of river users and residents.

“An important aspect of our mission is to connect communities to the Schuylkill River through recreational and educational activities,” said Tim Fenchel, Deputy Director of Schuylkill River Greenways. “To fully achieve the river’s potential, we must help the public understand the current health status and what they can do to continue to improve its quality for this generation and generations to come.”

In order to monitor the presence and/or distribution of litter along the Schuylkill River, the team is launching a campaign to recruit “Community Scientists” to conduct 5-minute Visual Monitoring Assessments. Using their mobile device, these volunteers can simply record the trash accumulation or dumping points along a 100-foot section of the Schuylkill River via a user-friendly form accessed via a cell phone: bit.ly/litterform.

“Trash is important to address when talking about the health of a waterway because it’s often the most visually obvious form of pollution. Bacterial and chemical pollution are generally less directly observable, but when we see trash, it instantly informs our impression of a body of water,” said Chloe Wang, River Programs Coordinator at Bartram’s Garden. “And, it can point to larger problems. For example, near Bartram’s Garden, a lot of trash washes into the river from combined sewer overflows, which also introduce harmful bacteria into the water. It will be interesting to see how the presence of trash differs along various stretches of the Schuylkill.”

The Community Scientist visual assessments require no formal training and are meant to be a simple effort that any resident can complete. We’ve developed an assessment survey, which can be accessed and submitted via a smartphone or tablet by opening the link in the phone/tablet’s browser.

“This is an opportunity for anyone with an interest in the Schuylkill River to spend time on the river and provide valuable feedback on the conditions of the river,” said David Bressler, Project Facilitator at Stroud Water Research Center. “Schuylkill River Greenways and its partners in this project are looking for motivated and dependable individuals to help them learn about the Schuylkill River and move in positive directions toward making the river more accessible to the community. Support from volunteers is very important and is greatly appreciated.”

The goal is to document critical areas of trash accumulation or dumping points in order to guide management efforts to better deal with this pollution. In addition to the multiple-choice questions to rank trash levels and quantities, this platform asks volunteers to submit a photo of the area and collects the GPS location. By utilizing this user-friendly platform, the data collected under this effort will be summarized and visualized by the project team.

“This project is an important study that we can use to connect people back to the river and show that the Schuylkill River is a place to be enjoyed by the entire community surrounding it and beyond,” said Michael Griffith, Education & Watershed Specialist at Berks Nature.

In 1985 the United Nations designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all to adequate shelter and to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. By understanding and improving water quality in the Schuylkill River, we are creating a place that enables community members to access public green and open spaces. This effort also supports UN Sustainable Development Goal 11, which aims for resilient, inclusive, safe, diverse cities by 2030.

In addition to the Community Scientist visual assessments, the stakeholder team is conducting water quality sampling and monitoring over the next year at four locations along the main stem of the Schuylkill River. This scientific documentation of critical water quality parameters will be performed by the stakeholder group’s employees and long term volunteers, who are trained in data collection and scientific methods. We will collect data on bacterial concentrations in the river using a combination of 3-M Petrifilm kits and laboratory-based analytical measures. In addition, in-situ temperature, oxygen, pH, and turbidity data will be collected utilizing Mayfly dataloggers.

“Our research shows that residents care about the river, but are not confident whether it is clean or safe to use for recreational activity. So we’ve designed a volunteer survey and scientific water quality assessment to document the ecological health of the Schuylkill River,” said Michael Hartshorne, Aquatic Resources Project Manager at Princeton Hydro. “By studying bacterial inputs and identifying hotspots for trash, we can communicate the status of the river, provide recommendations on areas of improvement, and ultimately, change the current public perception of the river.”

For the water quality monitoring, Princeton Hydro scientists will provide training to the partner nonprofit organizations’ staff and review the methods and protocols to assure the highest level of quality. This long-term data collection effort is slated to begin this month and continue for approximately one year. The results of this assessment will allow us to determine potential hotspots related to nutrient and bacteria inputs and to understand the overall ecological health of the Schuylkill River.

Overall, through this effort, the stakeholder team hopes to connect residents and communities with the Schuylkill River and to encourage engagement with this special resource.

Spring Events Spotlight: Webinars, Virtual Conferences, and Contests

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a number of events to be canceled or postponed, and many events have been switched to a digital format. Here’s a snapshot of the events Princeton Hydro is participating in while social distancing this Spring:

April 20 – May 16: Sustainable South Jersey Photo Contest

Sustainable South Jersey (SSJ) is hosting a Spring Photo Contest. Starting this week through May 16, the organization will hold weekly Facebook photo contests with a different photo contest theme – this week’s theme is Nature Appreciation. The photo with the most shares at the end of the week will be declared the winner. Shares will be tallied at 5pm each Saturday and winners will be announced on social media each following Sunday. The winner each week will receive a $50 gift card and be featured on SSJ’s social platforms and website.

Fun Fact: Our Marketing and Communications Manager Dana Patterson is the Vice President of the Sustainable South Jersey Board of Directors!

Learn more & Register

 

April 23: *Free* Green Stormwater Infrastructure Regulatory Webinar

New Jersey recently changed how stormwater is managed; green infrastructure will be the method of addressing polluted stormwater runoff going forward. Within the next year, all of New Jersey’s municipalities will have to adopt new stormwater management ordinances. And after adoption, all new projects will have to meet the green infrastructure stormwater management requirements. On April 23 from 4 – 6 PM, The Watershed Institute will host a webinar during which a panel of experts, including Princeton Hydro’s Dr. Clay Emerson, will discuss what municipalities must do and what the new requirements will mean for design and review of projects.

Learn more & Register

 

May 2 – May 9: Musconetcong Watershed Association’s Virtual Run for the River

MWA’s 20th Annual Run for the River, a fundraiser that supports education and outreach programs, will be held virtually this year. For the past 19 years, this event has taken place in Asbury, NJ along the Wild & Scenic Musconetcong River. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, folks are invited to register online to run, walk, bike, paddle, or even fish to show your support for the Musconetcong River. Set your own goal, log your times, and see how you compare with others engaging in your favorite activity! The first 125 registrants will get a free medal, and all participants will receive a free tote bag. As a proud sponsor of this event, the Princeton Hydro team is excited to participate!

Learn more & Register

 

 May 27 – 29: Virtual 2020 Joint Engineer Training Conference & Expo

Due to COVID-19, SAME has moved its 2020 Joint Engineer Training Conference & Expo (JETC) to a virtual format. The Virtual 2020 JETC will allow participants to tune-in live to all presentations and educational sessions, if their schedules allow. Alternatively, all sessions will be recorded so if you miss anything, you can access it at a later date. PDH credits will still be available for all education and training sessions!

Princeton Hydro President Geoff Goll, P.E. is giving a presentation on Friday, May 29 from 9:45 – 10:45 AM about Innovative Wetland Mitigation. The presentation will focus on a project Princeton Hydro completed at Joint Base Andrews and will provide the roadmap for military bases and other federal facilities to ease the permitting process for expansion while following Clean Water Act guidelines.

Learn more & Register

 

The Following Spring Events Have Been Rescheduled Due to COVID-19
July 19 (Postponed from April 22): Stroud “Flow of Life” Film Premiere

Join Stroud Water Research Center for the premiere of “Flow of Life,” a documentary created by The Visionaries Public Television Series that is hosted by actor Sam Waterston and highlights the Stroud Center’s work. The film premiere will also include refreshments beginning at 4 PM and a post-film Q & A session with award-winning journalist and producer Jody Santos. Princeton Hydro is proud to sponsor this exciting event! 

Learn more & RSVP

 

September 17 (Postponed from May 7): SAME NJ Post Small Business Council Event

The theme of this year’s SAME NJ Post Small Business Council Event is Cybersecurity. The event includes presentations from a variety of experts who will cover topics related to protecting your company from digital threats and meeting Government security requirements. The mission of SAME is to build leaders and lead collaboration among government and industry to develop multidisciplinary solutions to national security infrastructure challenges. Princeton Hydro joined SAME as a sustaining member in 2018.

Learn more & Register

 

September 19 (Postponed from March): WATERSHED CONGRESS ALONG THE SCHUYLKILL RIVER

Hosted by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, this conference is a highly anticipated event for people in the Schuylkill Watershed and beyond interested in understanding, protecting, and restoring their local streams and watersheds. This year’s program features a keynote on community building and engagement efforts to move inclusively, build awareness, and activate urban youth and adults in water protection, as well as information-packed breakout sessions, presenter’s roundtables, poster sessions, and much more. Michael Hartshorne, Emily Bjorhus, and Cory Speroff of Princeton Hydro, a proud sponsor of the event, are giving a presentation on Stream, Floodplain, and Multi-Functional Riparian Buffer Restoration.

Learn more & Register

 

October 7 (Postponed from April 1): NJ Invasives Strike Team Annual Conference

Presented by the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space and hosted by Duke Farms, the 12th Annual New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team Conference is considered the most comprehensive state-wide forum on invasive species. The conference encompasses insights from both academic research and field experience, and features practical demonstrations by land stewards in addition to formal presentations. Princeton Hydro, a sponsor of the conference, will be exhibiting. We look forward to seeing you there in October!

Learn more & Register
 …

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UPDATED: Winter Events Spotlight: Webinars, Courses, & Conferences

WE HAVE UPDATED THE BELOW CONTENT TO REFLECT EVENT CHANGES AND CANCELLATIONS DUE TO COVID-19. 

Throughout the first quarter of 2020, Princeton Hydro is participating in a variety of events focused on conserving, restoring, and protecting our precious water resources. Here’s a snapshot of what’s to come:

January 21: American Sustainable Business Council Webinar

As part of ASBC’s “Clean Water is Good for Business” campaign, the organization is hosting this online training session for businesses to help elevate their voice on clean water issues. Titled “Making the Business Case on Clean Water Issues to the Media,” this webinar will help you find and approach the right journalists, make the most compelling arguments for your policy agenda, enhance your credibility and confidence, and much more! The webinar is lead by Bob Keener, Deputy Director of Public Relations at American Sustainable Business Council; Dana Patterson, Marketing & Communications Manager at Princeton Hydro; Rita Yelda, Outreach & Communications Manager at Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed; and Colton Fagundes, Policy Associate at American Sustainable Business Council.

Learn more & Register

 

January 28: NJDEP’s Harmful Algal Blooms Summit

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is hosting a Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Summit. The summit is part of Governor Phil Murphy and the NJDEP’s three-pronged, $13 million initiative to reduce and prevent future HABs in New Jersey. This is the first of two regional summits taking place in early 2020 with the goal of improving communication throughout lake communities and sharing information ahead of the warmer months when HABs begin to appear. The summit includes a presentation from Princeton Hydro’s Dr. Fred Lubnow who will discuss the prevention, management and treatment of HABs. 

Learn more about NJDEP’s HABs Initiative

 

January 29-30: 2020 Delaware Wetlands Conference

Wetland enthusiasts, experts and students from the Mid-Atlantic region will gather together in Wilmington, Delaware to attend the 9th biennial 2020 Delaware Wetlands Conference. Participants will share the latest in wetland research, innovations to outreach and education, and the progress of conservation programs. Senior Ecologist Michael Rehman of Princeton Hydro, a proud sponsor of the event, is giving a presentation on urban wetland restoration. Swing by our exhibitor booth to say hello!

Learn more & Register

 

JANUARY 2019 – MAY 2020: TEMPLE UNIVERSITY WETLAND ECOLOGY COURSE

Moved to Remote Instruction for the Rest of the Semester

Our Vice President Mark Gallagher and Founding Principal and Consultant Dr. Steve Souza are teaching an applied wetland ecology graduate course at Temple University. The 17-week Spring semester course, which includes weekly lectures as well as field trips, will provide students with an opportunity to study real-world examples of wetland and riparian restoration and the integration of wetland ecology and restoration design within the context of green infrastructure. Students will gain an increased understanding of the ecological functions of wetland and riparian ecosystems; be introduced to the principles of applied ecology as related to wetland and riparian ecosystem restoration; get hands-on experience with how to use green infrastructure techniques in urban and suburban settings to control and abate stormwater impacts; and learn about state and federal regulations.

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JANUARY 2019 – MAY 2019: DELAWARE VALLEY UNIVERSITY WATERSHED MANAGEMENT COURSE

Moved to Remote Instruction for the Rest of the Semester

Dr. Fred Lubnow, Princeton Hydro’s Director of Aquatic Programs, is teaching a “Watershed Management” course at Delaware Valley University. The course provides participants with the skills needed to understand the concepts and terminology of hydrologic processes and watersheds, including evapotranspiration, soil water, infiltration, runoff, and stream flow. Through hands-on laboratory exercises and engaging lectures, students will also develop skills in environmental awareness, ecological awareness, and land stewardship, which will help them understand the key processes involved in managing watershed resources sustainably.

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March 2: SAME Philadelphia Post Small Business Conference

Society for American Military Engineers (SAME) gives leaders from the A/E/C, environmental, and facility management industries the opportunity to come together with federal agencies in order to showcase best practices and highlight future opportunities for small businesses to work in the federal market. Princeton Hydro’s Chief Operating Officer and Director of Geosciences Engineering Kevin Yezdimer, P.E. and Marketing Coordinator Kelsey Mattison are excited to participate in and exhibit at this year’s SAME SBC Philadelphia Post Conference. The program consists of networking events, small business exhibits, a variety of speakers and much more.

LEARN MORE & REGISTER

 

March 4-5: Pennsylvania Lake Management Society (PALMS) Conference

PALMS is hosting its 30th annual conference during which lake professionals, students, recreation enthusiasts, lakeside residents and community members will join together to explore a variety of topics related to managing lakes and reservoirs. This year’s conference themed, “Reflecting on our Past While Looking to the Future,” offers a collection of professional presentations, workshops and panel discussions. Dr. Fred Lubnow and Michael Hartshorne of Princeton Hydro are both giving presentations on harmful algae blooms. View the full conference agenda here, and be sure to visit the Princeton Hydro exhibitor booth to chat about the latest advancements in pond, lake and watershed management.

Learn more & Register

 

March 20: 24th Annual NJ Land Conservation Rally

Cancelled. 

The New Jersey Conservation Foundation is hosting its 24th Annual NJ Land Conservation Rally, a one-day educational conference focused on conserving New Jersey’s open space and farmland. This year’s conference, which Princeton Hydro is a proud sponsor of, includes training workshops, roundtable discussions, exhibitors, and a variety of networking opportunities. Click here to view the full conference agenda, including presentor bios and presentation abstracts. We hope you’ll stop by the Princeton Hydro exhibitor booth to say hello!

Learn more & Register

 

March 27: University of Pennsylvania’s 14th Annual Graduate Student Research Conference

Cancelled. Organization has requested that participants save March 26, 2021 as a possible reschedule date.

Penn’s Master of Environmental Studies and Master of Science in Applied Geosciences programs will host the 14th Annual Graduate Student Research Conference. This event, a celebration of academic excellence for Penn’s professional master’s programs, will kick off with a keynote address from Kathy Klein, Executive Director of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.  40+ graduating students from the Masters of Environmental Studies and Master of Science in Applied Geoscience programs will present their research posters during the event. Participants will also have the opportunity to  network with local organizations and Penn collaborators, including Princeton Hydro.

Learn more & RSVP

 

April 22: Stroud Water Research Center’s Lecture Series Event

Status Unknown. Stroud has cancelled/postponed all events through April 19, 2020, and the Campus is currently CLOSED to visitors. Additional postponements and/or cancellations may be announced at a later date.

Stroud Water Research Center is dedicated to understanding the ecology of streams, rivers, and watersheds. Its freshwater research, environmental education, watershed restoration, and stewardship programs enable businesses, policymakers, landowners, and individuals to make informed decisions that affect water quality and availability around the world. As part of Stroud’s environmental education mission, it is hosting a lecture series. Princeton Hydro is excited to sponsor the Earth Day celebration and premiere of Flow of Life, on April 22nd. Stay tuned for more info on this event!

Learn more about Stroud

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