A Citizen Science Hub in the Making

Learn more about our Citizen Science Hub in the making! We are excited that we are planning on purchasing equipment and materials to test recreational water quality. It will allow us to do more testing across our watershed.

At Ottawa Riverkeeper, we are currently developing a Citizen Science Hub, a unique space in our office where volunteers will be able to come to learn about the river! As part of this hub, we will purchase equipment and materials to test recreational water quality. This will include a small, portable incubator as well as other required water quality testing supplies.

This equipment will allow us to measure the level of E. Coli, a harmful bacteria, in surface water from a variety of locations at a relatively low cost. E. Coli is used to measure water quality because it is an indicator of fecal contamination from potential urban pollution sources, such as combined sewers and stormwater outfalls. The amount of this bacteria found in water also signals the presence of pathogens that can be harmful to human health; if E.coli is present, there is a high likelihood that other pathogens and viruses are also present.

We are particularly excited about this new initiative because it will allow us to engage citizen scientists, like our Riverwatchers, enabling them to better understand important water quality indicators and perform water quality tests themselves. This equipment will also allow us and our network to perform water quality tests in communities that do not have access to a professional lab, as it is light, compact, and easy to transport.

We are currently doing preliminary tests to ensure our results will be consistent. We have been working with a local Riverwatcher to collect regular water samples from the Rideau River, which has allowed us to better understand how the equipment will work and learn more about the water quality in this part of the river. Once we have finished the preliminary testing phase and purchased new equipment, we will launch more water quality testing activities throughout the watershed.

Stay tuned for more news about our citizen science hub as it develops further, and if you would like to learn more about future water quality testing opportunities, please contact our Riverwatch Coordinator, Larissa Holman, at: lholman@ottawariverkeeper.ca.

A big thank you to Muskoka Brewery and Evergreen Brick Works for providing us with funding to start developing the Citizen Science Hub.

6 responses to “A Citizen Science Hub in the Making”

  1. Mary Hegan says:

    Great to have preliminary test of water samples happening near falls on the Rideau river. I hope we can choose other locations and volunteers spread along the Rideau to build on preliminerary testing and build trend data on the Rideau. The initial findings will help build interest and momentum on the Rideau to engage more people in science and the use of science. Also adds to the good work of RVCA streamwater testing, etc..
    Most interested. Mary Hegan, riverwatcher on the Rideau.

  2. Janet Graham says:

    I would like to participate as a volunteer. Please contact me by return e-mail.

  3. Zoé says:

    So exciting! Can’t wait to come by and check it out.

  4. Last year I recall that the Riverkeeper did some water testing from the Ottawa New Edinburgh Boathouse. I am the Ottawa New Edinburgh Club President and Boathouse Director. If you wish to conduct some testing of the Ottawa River from our Boathouse docks, let me know. It’s always important to know and maintain the quality of the River.

  5. Brian Toller says:

    Hi Meredith,
    Hope you are using the testing kits developed in Ottawa by Water Rangers? They are a cool non-profit that has emerged from Impact Hub Ottawa, and as IHO’s Board Chair, I thought I should bring it to your attention!