Paul Smith’s work recognized as crucial for water protection
By Cayte Bosler
Waiting in water are many stories, if only we know how to read them. With the proper tools and understanding, the lakes, ponds, and streams of the Adirondacks reveal to us the climate of the past and present with hints of the future.
The Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI), a research lab at Paul Smith’s College, leads the region in turning samples into stories about the health of our water bodies and how in turn, their findings may affect the well-being of human and nonhuman communities. After a year of review, the AWI lab now has state environmental lab certification, a bolster that accelerates their ability to turn research into action to help Adirondack communities.
According to an AWI news release, the Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP) is part of a national laboratory accreditation program that ensures the accuracy and reliability of environmental analyses conducted for regulatory purposes. This certification is a new requirement for eligibility to receive state and federal grants and contracts and it opens new opportunities to support the region’s clean water and communities.
“This is an important achievement for us”, says AWI‘s executive director, Dan Kelting in the release. “Lab certification allows us to significantly increase our capacity to understand and efficiently respond to some of the most pressing water quality issues in our region.”
Findings by researchers at AWI can help guide community-led actions or state interventions. This is the only institute in the Adirondacks to receive this certification – with it their data has the green light for anyone working for the State’s Department of Conservation to use in their own environmental assessments. Effectively, it opens the door for my efficient collaboration and faster pathways to acting on threats to water quality.
“The Adirondack Park was formed to protect clean water; that is the history and story of this incredible landscape,” said Brendan Wiltse, one of 14 staff scientists at AWI. “Our work allows us to assess threats to clean water in the park and the success of efforts to protect it. We have the largest lake monitoring program in the region, and with the certification of our lab, that data can now benefit our state and federal partners.”
Add to historic problems like excess nutrients, pollution, invasive species and more, the increasing pressures from climate change and unraveling the dynamics of any given environment is a challenge. The more in-depth and consistent the monitoring is of our ecosystems, the better our chances of knowing how to manage them.
“This is the largest effort of its kind spanning over 150 lakes in the region,” Wiltse said.
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