Windsor

Great Lakes institute calling for hundreds of 'citizen scientists' to help with water testing

Residents can pick up water sample collection kits at locations across Windsor-Essex and take part in testing for bacteria. After turning in their kit, participants will only have to wait a few hours before checking the results of their work online.

Project aims to have 1,000 volunteers

The Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research is calling for hundreds of 'citizen scientists' to participate in a water quality testing project. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

The Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research is searching for hundreds of "citizen scientists" to participate in the largest-scale water quality project the region has ever seen.

Researchers need as many water samples as they can get from the region's beaches in order to monitor them using a new technique called next-generation DNA sequencing. Results could change how water is tested for harmful bacteria, providing more accurate health readings.

"This project involves both engineers and scientists, so the data that will be generated will be explored in different angles," said Subbarao Chaganti, with the Great Lakes Institute. "It will reveal many different answers from many different aspects."

Residents can pick up water sample collection kits at locations across Windsor-Essex and take part in testing for bacteria.

After turning in their kit, participants will only have to wait a few hours before checking the results of their work online.

The project currently has 20 volunteers, but the institute hopes that number will climb to 1,000 to get the best-possible picture of water quality in the area — testing is set to start Saturday.

"What we're doing in the lab — to develop the approach where we're using this genetics sequencing — is a game changer," said University of Windsor professor Dan Heath, who is also chairperson of the Great Lakes Institute.

Volunteers can pick up sample bottles between 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Aug. 16-18 at:

  • Belle River's Lakeview Park Beach
  • Brian Masse constituency office
  • Colchester Beach
  • Essex Region Conservation Authority office
  • Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research
  • Leamington Kinsmen Recreation Complex 
  • Point Pelee National Park

Samples can be returned between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Aug. 19.

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