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Luga river basin ecomonitoring groups joined the River Watch network

Inter-regional training-seminar "Public monitoring of water bodies in Leningrad Region: cooperation of educational institutions, authorities and NGOs” was organized by Ecocentrum LLC together with experts from Friends of the Baltic NGO. The meeting was held on February 2, 2017, in Luga, Leningrad region.

Leaders of youth public ecomonitoring groups from Luga, Kingisepp and Lomonosov districts of Leningrad Region and St. Petersburg, as well as representatives of public organizations, participated in the meeting. Committee of State Environmental Supervision of Leningrad region and Luga District Education Committee representatives were special guests of the training.

Olga Senova, Friends of the Baltic NGO chairperson, presented the international River Watch manual to the participants. This manual includes various research methods of water and coastal zone monitoring (geographic, organoleptic, hydrological, biochemical, physical and chemical methods, as well as bio indication and others), as well as methods of result analysis and recommendations of ways to improve water quality by local communities.

Yuliya Shevtsova, director of the Tolmachevo school, presented the results of monitoring conducted at Luga River and its tributary streams Saba and Yashera. Investigations were held in the frame of LugaBalt project ("Clean rivers - a healthy Baltic Sea"). Moreover, plans for future rivers observation were presented (LugaBalt 2 activities). Schoolchildren from Sabsk, Osmino, Tolmachevo, Toroshkovichi, and Zaklynie participated in the project and got a good experience of water bodies research. Schoolchildren from the youth camp had the opportunity to conduct investigations in cooperation with scientists, hydrochemists and hydrobiologists.

"The health of rivers" was evaluated based on research. There was a case when children found out and informed local authorities about sanitation problems. Zoological study showed a lot of fish species in the middle of the river: burbots, carps, graylings, pike, lampreys, and so on. It is possible to find rare species of birds, including gray heron (Red Data Book specie), as well as mammals - marshotter (Mustelalutreola), river otter (Lutra), racoon-like dog (Nyctereutesprocyonoides). All schools that are project participants, as well as new members, would like to continue studying the rivers.

Victoria Gromova from the House of children’s creativity in Primorsky district of St. Petersburg presented the results of water bodies study in Luga district: investigations of Luga basin rivers took place during Smena expedition camp (the main area was around Cheremenetskoye and Vrevo lakes). Local history research and studies of water quality by phytoindication methods (bioindication by plants) were important parts of investigations.

Tamara Chernova, methodologist from the Kingisepp Center of Creative Development, who has been leading school environmental research in Kingisepp district for over 20 years, shared her experience and research results from the lower reaches and mouth of Luga river. Despite the availability of sources of pollution upstream, within the city of Kingisepp water quality is only satisfactory. Downstream there is a large industrial Phosphorus-processing facility and the port complex of Ust-Luga, which have a significant impact on the river. The mouth of Luga river is marked by very poor invertebrate fauna. There is a total of around 13 school groups participating in water research programs in Kingisepp district.

All participants had a different level of research experience: among them were experienced teachers as well as new people who just wanted to start water bodies monitoring in the region. 15 schools are involved in water monitoring: they worked on Luga, Kaskolovka, Bystritsa and Neyma rivers, lake Kopanskoe, Serebryanka streem and many others.

Participants noted that Coastwatch project, realized in cooperation with Environmental Club of students and schoolchildren, Naturewatch project with Baltic Fund for Nature, RiverWatch program in cooperation with Friends of the Baltic NGO / Coalition Clean Baltic and other projects lead to growing water monitoring activities in the region.

Training participants noted the potential of youth and school groups in water quality research and talked about the special educational role of school observations for children and youth engagement in nature protection. All participants planned to participate in observations one way or another - depending on the teacher's experience and equipment possibilities.

The important part of the training was master class on simple methods and water characteristics measurements: organoleptic characteristics (color, turbidity / clarity, smell), pH, nitrates and nitrites, total hardness, degree of salinity. Nadezhda Bystrovа, an expert from Friends of the Baltic NGO and Methodologist of the House of youth creativity of Peterhof, was a main speaker f the training. Participants had an opportunity to analyze water samples from different parts of Luga, Kingisepp and Lomonosov districts of Leningrad region. The investigations included water samples from Luga River and its tributaries, lakes and springs. Nitrate levels in some samples reached 200 mg/L (limits are 45 mg/L). Source of pollution must be identified and eliminated.

Representatives of the Committee of State Environmental Supervision of Leningrad Region who attended the meeting, express their support for the participants activities, and also noted that it is very important to expand the River Watch network in the region.

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