Water Quality Monitoring Project
Is the River Safe to Swim In?
For the past several years CRWC has nurtured a home-grown Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program using equipment on loan from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do in-stream analysis of dissolved oxygen, water temperature, conductivity, and clarity. New this year is our partnership with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) and University of Massachusetts Water Resources Research Center (UMASS WRRC) to put together a successful grant application to continue some of the bacteria testing work they started under an EPA Targeted Watershed Grant. Our funding comes from federal stimulus money.
Already underway, the partnership is conducting regular bacteria monitoring this summer at sites on the main stem of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts, and along several tributaries with known or suspected bacteria problems. CRWC, PVPC, and UMASS WRRC will work together in 2010, and again for part of 2011, to conduct the testing. Bacteria monitoring will take place in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties of Massachusetts.
Samples will be tested at the PVPC’s facilities and in CRWC’s new Water Laboratory. The data generated by analyzing samples will fill in a big gaps in several watershed communities—offering them up-to-date information on whether a particular river or stream is safe to swim, fish, or paddle in. Through this joint project we’ll be able to get valuable information to communities, including some of the watershed’s urban areas where kids may be tempted to cool off in summer streams where water quality may be impaired--or even dangerous, following rain events.
This data will provide a more complete picture of the river’s health and understanding about sources of contamination. The information will be useful not only for recreational users who have direct contact with the waters, but for local, state, and federal officials in addressing combined sewer overflow discharges and stormwater flows.
Connecticut River mainstem:
At least nine locations along the Connecticut River will be monitored on a weekly basis. Volunteers collect samples every Wednesday morning, rain or shine, and results are posted online by the end of the day Thursday, at this website: http://www.umass.edu/tei/mwwp/ctrivermonitoring.html.
Connecticut River tributaries:
Bacteria sampling and possible source tracking will be done during dry weather at multiple tributaries June to October of 2010 and May to June of 2011. Volunteers will work in close coordination with CRWC at five tributaries and along Barton Cove in Gill and Turners Falls. These samples are being analyzed at CRWC’s new Water Laboratory in Greenfield. Other tributaries are being sampled by PVPC staff. Bacteria results can be found online at http://www.umass.edu/tei/mwwp/ctrivermonitoring.html.
This project is partially financed with Federal Funds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection under an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Section 604(b) Water Quality Management Planning Grant. The contents do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of EPA or of the Department, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.
Photo credits (above): CRWC Staff
Image Credits at Right - Illustrations: Bill Singleton; Photos: Elisabeth Cianciola, David Deen, ©Chris Hardie, ©Al Braden www.albradenphoto.com, River Music drawn by Tom Dudley - Greenfield Recorder, CRWC Staff.