Dear <<First Name>>,
Hope you're doing well.
With help from our indispensable partners at the Bard Water Lab and Riverkeeper, we've gotten to the point of being confident enough to resume sampling on the Roe Jan. Of course there are still uncertainties, but it's time to start safely resuming this project.
After attending meetings with outside organizations, and having many conversations with our partners, we've developed a safety plan to protect community members during the sampling process. These safety recommendations come from many sources, as many monitoring programs are facing these same challenges.
In general, changes have been made to improve social distancing during the task, and to reduce exposure to potentially contaminated water. As you may know, the scientific community doesn’t fully understand the risk of contracting COVID-19 through exposure to water such as the Roe Jan. Although the Roe Jan is generally a low-Entero stream, there is always potential for raw sewage to be in the water and that is why we monitor, but also why we want to be very cautious. We have always required samplers to wear gloves when collecting water samples, and that is to both protect you from what may be in the water and to prevent you from contaminating the sample.
For July 11th and August 15th we plan to keep the basic program outline the same:
- We're still segmenting the task into upstream and downstream, with a two person crew handling each segment.
- We're still planning to sample all of the same sites as 2019. Many watershed groups are dropping sites with reliably high Entero counts or with nearby WTPs, but after careful analysis, we believe all sites on the Roe Jan are safe to sample.
But there will also be significant adjustments:
- Sampling should be done by experienced samplers only and the two samplers for each segment must be members of the same household. (In the past, sampling was often a social occasion, but not now.)
- Samplers will need to pick up sampling gear at Bard College during the week preceding sampling. (In the past, gear was conveniently brought to the samplers by Gretchen and Josh, which worked great, but not now.)
- After sampling all sites, both the upstream and downstream crews will need to bring their gear and samples to Bard College. (The rendezvous and sample hand-off at Elizaville Diner worked well, but not now.)
- For safety, minimize contact with the water. Wear gloves, masks, and glasses (all 3 required). Consider wearing rain gear so that splashes don't contact your clothing. Avoid skin contact with the water, and don't wade into the stream,. Use the dipper (or bucket on bridges). If you can't reach the water safely, skip the site.
Additional details will be provided prior to sampling. If you are not comfortable sampling at this point, we totally understand. That's an individual decision.
If you are an experienced two-person-household and you want to sample either upstream or downstream the Saturday morning of July 11th or August 15th, please let me know. Or if you have any comments on these plans, please get in touch. I know this is short notice, but we're doing our best in challenging times.
I'm really excited to get this underway. Please stay safe and healthy.