Blogs > Water Quality > Will Riverkeeper gather water quality data during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Will Riverkeeper gather water quality data during the COVID-19 pandemic?


Photo by Eva Deitch
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In this series of posts, Riverkeeper compiles the available information – and unanswered questions – on the possible risks the COVID-19 virus may pose via sewage-contaminated water.

Photo by Eva Deitch

New York is at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s urgent that we stay focused on preventing transmission through the known routes – interpersonal contact and contact with surfaces contaminated with the COVID-19 virus.

At the same time, Riverkeeper is actively studying the available information on the risks the COVID-19 virus may pose to individuals or communities via sewage-contaminated water. Riverkeeper recognizes that our organization is not expert in epidemiology or infectious diseases. Click the links below to explore this topic further.

Q. Will Riverkeeper continue to gather water quality data during the pandemic?

A: As a precaution, Riverkeeper has postponed the start of our community science water sampling program.

Based on our understanding of the available science, consultation with our long-term scientific partners at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and CUNY Queens College, and guidance from Waterkeeper Alliance, Riverkeeper has decided to postpone the start of our community science projects. Normally, dozens of community science volunteers assist in the collection of water samples at 400 locations along tributaries and public access points monthly, beginning in May.

We have identified three threshold conditions that must be met to resume:

1.) The science has sufficiently advanced to give us confidence that staff or volunteers who take water samples will not be put at unacceptable risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus in the act of sampling.

2.) Social-distancing mandates or guidelines are relaxed in a way that allows for activities such as sampling, with or without enhanced safety precautions.

3.) University partners regain regular access to their laboratory facilities.

We are presently weighing the potential to continue sampling the Hudson River Estuary via our patrol boat.


Is COVID-19 virus present in water?

Is recreation along the Hudson still safe? Assessing the risk from the COVID-19 virus

Can better water infrastructure help protect public health amid virus outbreaks?

Can disinfection in sewage treatment help protect against COVID-19 risks?

Is drinking water at risk from the COVID-19 virus?

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