The MassDEP 604b Water Quality Management Grant program awarded the Town of Hanover $21,269 to work with the NSRWA and MassBays to search for sources of bacteria in the headwaters of the North River. Testing by the North and South Rivers Watershed Association in 2019 showed high bacterial counts in multiple North River headwater tributaries in Hanover, including Longwater Brook, Cushing Brook, French’s Stream, and the Drinkwater River.

Based on decades of sampling through the NSRWA RiverWatch Program, we know that the sites that are most likely to exceed the primary contact standard for swimming are those that are the farthest upstream in the mainstem, but we do not know where the bacteria are coming from. Based on that initial 2019 sampling, we believe it may be a mix of stormwater and wastewater sources. The project will use an iterative bacterial source tracking approach to determine the source(s) of these high bacterial counts. Locations with high bacterial counts will be bracketed by additional testing, allowing the bacteria to hopefully be traced to the source.

In addition to funding monitoring, the grant also provides funds for outreach to the community about water quality impairments and their causes. Hanover will be working with both the NSRWA’s Ecologist and MassBays South Shore Regional Coordinator Sara Grady as well as Brian Taylor, NSRWA Education Coordinator. Brian will assist Sara with finding community volunteers and provide education about water pollution. We will also work with the Town of Hanover to determine sites that might be candidates for stormwater or wastewater improvements.