By Kate Moore
In the past year, our Vancouver Water Monitoring Program has had upwards of 120 volunteers who have donated over 440 hours, and resulting in over 460 water samples collected. Thanks to the astonishing efforts of our citizen science volunteers we were able to create our 2019 Water Monitoring Report from the year-round results.
Today, our program looks very different, but our goal remains the same. Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to suspend our citizen science water monitoring program and our team transitioned to working from home. We have been focused on creating digital content, sharing informative articles, and collecting environmental observations from False Creek, where possible. Although our monitoring program has been put on pause, our overall mission to ensure that all citizens can safely swim, drink, and fish in BC waters has not halted. It is more important than ever to build a network of people who are connected to their waters, connected to each other, and active in community life. Even if this means executing our programs in a different way.
This is where you come in. In order to safeguard our local waters it is important that we continue to collect observations and survey the water’s condition; including pollution, litter, people, and wildlife. Over the years, our water monitoring program has ensured that Vancouverites and those who recreate on False Creek have had access to year-round open and reliable water quality data.
As you may be looking for meaningful ways to connect to nature whilst social distancing, we need you, our citizen scientists, to help us to continue to collect long term water quality data and safeguard our waters. You can help by contributing to our online catalogue of data with your observations and field survey photos.
Before getting started, please ensure:
- You practice proper social distancing measures (keeping a distance of 2 meters between others);
- You stay home if you are feeling any illness or COVID-19 symptoms;
- You are not putting yourself or others at risk getting to the water;
- You avoid closed beaches, parks, and high traffic outdoor destinations.
*Disclaimer: as the situation is constantly changing, we will provide updates on COVID-19 safety and protocols
Three ways you can collect observations for us:
1. Using the Swim Guide app to upload photo observations
The Swim Guide app for iOS and Android has a feature for beach photo submissions, as a citizen science effort to collect data on beaches around the world. To use this feature:
- Visit a beach page in the Swim Guide app
- Click on the photo submission icon and choose “Submit photos”
- Click upload beach photos and select your chosen photo
- Add details on the report page about what you see, as well as your name and email information
- Submit your photo by clicking “Send”
- Wildlife (ie. birds, seals, fish, mammals etc)
- People using the water (ie SUP, kayaker, sailboat, sea-doo etc)
- Pollution or debris (ie plastics, floatables, garbage, unknown substances)
2. Use this Google form to fill out an environmental survey
Help us record data on debris/pollution, wildlife, and people using the water at our three sites in False Creek: Olympic Village, Brokers’ Bay, and Vanier Park. This data is important to collect even when we are not taking water samples in order to compile long term data.
If you are going down to False Creek for your daily exercise, consider filling out this google form and tell us what you saw!
3. Use our new Water Monster to help us collect even more data
Swim Drink Fish has recently created an online portal to collect photos of debris, wildlife, and people using the water. Follow the link here and feed Gassy the water monster with your photos from down by the water! You can submit photos from your computer or home.
If you have any questions about collecting observations, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org