In the North and South Rivers, our biggest concern is harmful bacteria from stormwater runoff. For the safety of our local community, we’ve been sampling and monitoring water quality at ten sites along the rivers for 24 years. RiverWatch is a volunteer-driven effort that monitors for both swimming and shell fishing standards.

In the past, poor treatment of wastewater was to blame, but we’ve worked with surrounding towns to help them eliminate polluted discharge from their sewage treatment plants. Since then, bacterial counts have been dramatically decreased. But bacteria in stormwater runoff still finds its way into our streams, rivers and shellfish beds.

How does water quality affect shellfish beds?

Shellfish are filter-feeders. This means they filter the water when they feed off the bacteria and microscopic algae around them. If harmful bacteria is in the water, shellfish will consume it. And when we eat the shellfish, so do we. Because this can make us very sick, shellfish beds must often be closed especially after rainfall.

“We support the NSRWA because the work you do is vital to maintaining the river, to have it clean for the fish and for everyone. Healthy rivers don’t happen overnight! We are appreciative of your leadership and want to support you any way we can.”

Joelle Bianchi, NSRWA member, Scituate

How you can help

You can become a RiverWatch volunteer and make sure our rivers are safe, fishable, and swimmable throughout the summer! As a monitor, you will visit 10 sampling sites along the North and South Rivers every other week from the beginning of June to the end of August. Monitoring typically takes about 3 to 3.5 hours total.

Stay tuned for 2020 volunteer dates and times.