CHESHIRE — Volunteers will be looking for signs of road runoff, human intervention and water contamination in the Mill River over the coming weeks as part of a river health study.
Teams of volunteers with the Cheshire Land Trust will access the river through public land and, where permitted, from private property. Training provided by a water quality specialist with the Regional Water Authority is scheduled for this Saturday.
The Mill River starts in Cheshire and flows 17 miles to New Haven harbor. Save the Sound, a nonprofit, is funding the study.
Organizers say the study will help determine ways to improve the river’s health and also remind residents of the nearby waterway.
“It’s a good opportunity to get people in the river and start seeing it as a natural resource, not just something that flows through the community,” said Nicole Davis, Mill River Watershed Coordinator with Save the Sound.
Pam Roach, a land trust member and Mill River study facilitator, said there are about 20 volunteers signed up for the work. She’s hoping more will join. Those interested can call her at 860-804-0387.
The training is scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday at the Albert Schweitzer Institute on the campus of Quinnipiac University.
After the training, teams of volunteers will receive assignments and sections of the river to study. Those reports will be compiled in August.
Dan Doyle, spokesman for the Regional Water Authority, said volunteers will get training in identifying signs of “something problematic in the water” such as runoff. Eroded channels leading to the river can man improper drainage nearby from a road, for instance.
“By tracking all these factors, you’re able see these issues before they become problematic,” Doyle said.
The water authority inspects the watershed lands it owns regularly in a similar way.
Roach hopes that volunteers can assess the Mill River all the way to the Hamden town line. Teams that need access to private property will have badges and paperwork, Roach said, and she asked homeowners to give them access.
“There’s going to be residential properties that back up into the Mill River,” she said. “We want to have it as complete of a study as we can get.”