Water Quality Results

If you are unaware, NepRWA has had a longstanding water quality monitoring program called the Citizens’ Water Monitoring Network (CWMN, pronounced swimmin’). This program is currently the only source of up to date information regarding water quality in the freshwater sections of the Neponset Watershed.

Map of E.coli results from the 04/10/13 CWMN program sampling event.

Map of E.coli results from the 04/10/13 CWMN program sampling event.

The CWMN program is an entirely volunteer based program, where our volunteers do all of the water sampling, all of the dissolved oxygen monitoring, and process all of the samples to be analyzed at the water quality laboratory located at the Deer Island Water Treatment facility operated by the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA). To ensure that the samples and data collected by our volunteers is of the highest quality, each volunteer goes through training approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) as well as the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).

These volunteers help to monitor 41 locations throughout the watershed for a host of physical, chemical and biological factors to help give an idea of the current health of the river and to highlight potential problem areas. The sampling season for the CWMN program runs roughly every six weeks starting in April through October each year. We focus on the warm weather months for two reasons. First, these are the months where people are most likely to be in contact with the river. Secondly, these months are when bacteria grow best, and bacteria is our pollutant of greatest concern in the Neponset.

In April, we started sampling again for the 2013 sampling season. Here are links to the tabular results and status pages. Essentially, what we saw in April were normal conditions throughout the watershed. Despite it being a “Wet” weather event, where you mighty typically see increased degradation due to elevated levels of bacteria and other pollutants from stormwater, the river and tributaries were fairly free from bacterial contamination (See associated Map). This is likely due to the typically lower water temperatures at this time of year, which are not conducive to excessive bacterial growth. You will notice a couple of areas that failed to meet the State’s standard for bacteria. At these location we have a couple of known problems in the watershed that we have been working for some time to alleviate.

In Norwood, at the Meadow Brook sampling station, MEB001, you will notice extremely high bacteria levels despite the colder water temperatures. This is due to illicit connections and leaking sewer drains in the vicinity of this brook. The Town of Norwood has been aware of this problem for some time and is still working towards a permanent fix to these issues. The other problem area for this event was at NER200, which is our most downstream sampling station on the mainstem of the Neponset River. This station suffers from two separate factors that likely contributed to its failure due to elevated bacteria levels. First, this site deals with the cumulative effects of all water quality issues upstream of it. Also, similar to site MEB001, this site has known illicit connections to stormwater drainage areas in Mattapan and Hyde Park that discharge directly to the river upstream of this sampling station.

You can check back to this blog periodically to find updated results for our other sampling events from this summer as we receive data back from the MWRA.

For more information on the CWMN program please go HERE

To view information on past sampling events go HERE

For more information on volunteer opportunities for this program and others go HERE

William Guenther, Environmental Scientist, September 5, 2013


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