Due to the Covid-19 crisis, we are not soliciting new volunteers for our 2020 sampling season. Please check back with us next season to volunteer.

In the North and South Rivers, our biggest concern regarding water quality 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 27 years. RiverWatch is a volunteer-driven effort that monitors local waters for compliance with both swimming and shellfishing water quality 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 sewage treatment plants and reduced failing septic systems. Our work has led to dramatic reductions in bacterial counts but bacteria still finds its way into our streams, rivers and shellfish beds when rain falls on impervious (hardened) surfaces and drains untreated into our streams, rivers and coastal waters.

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