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The NSRWA has been monitoring water quality since 1994 as part of its flagship Riverwatch program, which has provided data on bacteria, temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, and conductivity every two weeks from June-August. In some years, this program is supplemented by other targeted monitoring, but keeping this program consistent allows for comparisons over a long time-series of data. For example, the graph shows that the percentage of samples that exceed the swimming standard for bacteria increases with increasing rainfall, but also that over the decades for a given category of rainfall the likelihood of exceedances has generally decreased, indicating that stormwater pollution has been reduced especially with lower rainfall amounts (not enough data are available for the 2020s with higher rainfall amounts.)

In addition to RiverWatch, we are looking forward to providing additional data and water quality insights in the upcoming year through multiple grants that we have been awarded or hope to receive. A project funded through the MassDEP Water Quality Monitoring Grant program has provided the capability for us and other watershed associations in eastern Massachusetts to monitor conductivity (a measure of dissolved ions or salts). We have dataloggers in six paired freshwater locations on either side of Route 3 – Third Herring Brook in Norwell and Hanover, Smelt Brook in Kingston, and Town Brook in Plymouth. The data collected through this fall will provide a baseline to compare to data collected during the winter months when road salt is applied to the highway and local roads, to see how much road salt enters our streams and how long it takes to get there. We recently initiated a grant with the Town of Hanover to conduct additional bacterial monitoring in the headwaters of the North River and attempt to track down sources that might be keeping bacterial counts around the Washington Street Bridge higher than the rest of the river. Finally, we recently applied for another MassDEP Water Quality Monitoring Grant with the eastern Massachusetts watershed group coalition that would provide funding to support RiverWatch, plus add selective nutrient monitoring of the rivers as well as some initial cyanobacteria monitoring of three ponds in Pembroke and Hanson.

If you are interested in volunteering for our water quality monitoring or any other citizen science program please fill out our application form and you will be added to our list! Also, look for a comprehensive annual monitoring report to come out in a couple of months that will provide a review of this year’s results and comparisons to previous years for not only our water quality projects but our habitat and organism monitoring as well.

One week of our Water Quality Monitoring program costs $500. Click here to sponsor a Week of Water Quality Monitoring.