October’s community meeting was super exciting, with high levels of engagement and participation from community members. We hope for this high level of energy to continue into our next meetings! We started off the meeting with guest speaker Robyn Smyth, Professor at Bard College, who discussed about harmful algae blooms, also known as HABs. HABs are a global issue and they produce toxins that are harmful to aquatic and human life. However, Robyn made a clear distinction that not all algae are harmful, and they are significant to the ecosystem. They are the base of the food chain and produces oxygen! HABs are driven by excess nutrients. For example, when we put excess fertilizers, it accumulates and runs off into the lake/ river, which encourages the overgrowth of algae (an algal bloom). When they die, they deplete the oxygen levels in the water and sink to the bottom of the water. This process is known as eutrophication. HABs are also driven by climate change! In particular, in the Northeast, we are experiencing less rainstorms; however, they are much more intense. This results in erosion, which also contributes to excess nutrients into bodies of water. Some potential solutions are applying algaecides or using forms of artificial mixing. If you suspect a harmful algal bloom, do not touch it! Please take pictures of it and send them to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. To read more about algae blooms click here for Robyn’s presentation.
Next, we had Hunter Matis, an undergraduate senior at Bard College, to demonstrate the Flowcam. The Flowcam is an incredible machine that functions like a microscope. You can pour water samples into the Flowcam, and it is able to capture photos of the organisms that are in the water. Isn’t that super cool?! To check out some of the organisms, click here for Hunter’s presentation.
Afterwards, we had a great community conversation discussing about concerning farm practices. Eli Dueker made an awe-inspiring point that it is important for people who care about our water (and the environment) and farmers to come together as a community to try to tackle environmental issues. Karen McDonald also added that it is vital to support farmers but also recognize the bad farming practices and try to fix it. Another community member that beautifully wrapped up this conversation mentioned, “The question we should be proposing is ‘How can we help? And how can we come together?’”
To read more about the meeting, click here for the meeting minutes. In addition, come and join us on our water quality monitoring of the Saw Kill on November 9. Lastly, our next community meeting is on November 14 at the Elmendorph Inn. Hope to see you all out at the sampling site!