LEWISTON – Volunteers are needed from New Hampshire and Maine to be part of an Androscoggin River water quality-monitoring program that will begin this summer by a regional watershed council.

The Androscoggin River Watershed Council has recently received a grant from a small family foundation with strong ties to the region for the purpose of exploring the health of the river.

This summer the council will inaugurate a riverwide volunteer water quality monitoring program, utilizing appropriate quality assurance methods, aimed at collecting data at specific test sites along the 174-mile river corridor in Maine and New Hampshire.

Goals of the new program are to provide training for volunteers on monitoring techniques, assess the status of water quality along the Androscoggin, eventually including tributaries, and to determine whether water quality at sampling sites meets water quality standards.

In addition, the council hopes to identify specific existing or emerging water quality problems, identify changes or trends in water quality over time and provide timely and high-quality data to the public, state officials, school groups and other participating organizations.

Recently the Androscoggin has received publicity regarding low dissolved oxygen levels in the impounded area known as Gulf Island Pond, upstream of the Lewiston-Auburn area.

While some areas of the river are under much scrutiny, other areas are not being tested at all. Like some other waterways, the Androscoggin River goes largely untested for much of its length. Therefore, the water quality of the river is unknown along much of the river’s 174-mile length.

Council project coordinator Barbra Barrett said, “We want to monitor the quality on an on-going basis so that we can better understand the Androscoggin as a watershed.”

She said, “We want to be able to communicate our findings to the public, the potential users. Regularly collected monitoring data along the Androscoggin will be useful in determining the current situation of water quality and provide data essential to knowing the impacts on human health, fish and wildlife. ARWC is committed to providing this information, thereby helping to further restore this special New England natural resource.”

The council, along with the New Hampshire Dept. of Environmental Services, will conduct trainings in mid-May to prepare interested volunteers to be part of the project.

Anyone interested in learning more about becoming a water quality-monitoring volunteer should contact Barrett, at 824-0739 or e-mail at [email protected]