Our nitrate, total phosphorus and fecal coliform results for October are on the Monitoring Program Page of the website. The October samples give us the information needed to calculate the 2018 averages for the water quality months of May through October that EPA uses in discharge permit limitation averaging (last column in the table).
Despite the fact that the summer of 2018 was hot and river flow usually low just before our sampling days in July (7/10) and August (8/7) there were rain events which temporarily increased river flow and dilution. Our data reflects this in lower nitrate levels than those measured in July and August of 2016 and 2017 as shown on the website. Also due to sampling after rain storms we saw higher fecal coliform results in 2018 than in the previous two summers.
Even though we sampled at temporarily high summer dilution events the average level of nitrate measured is 0.56 mg/l well above the MassDEP and EPA based instream healthy estuary target of 0.4 mg/l nitrate that we use. This illustrates the critical importance of long term data collection or we would not have seen the much higher more typical levels measured in previous years.
Long term we are looking for two things to significantly improve water quality and aquatic life species diversity in the Taunton river watershed. Completion of the treatment plant upgrades to remove nitrogen due by the summer of 2022 for the Taunton WWTP and the WWTPs plants upstream, and more common use of stormwater best practices to “Soak Up the Rain” (e.g. the new Taunton Riverfront Park rain gardens).
TRWA monitoring is helping us understand how the river is responding to stewardship efforts to improve wastewater treatment (better N and TP removal) and stormwater management; along with the increasingly extreme weather (droughts and floods) associated with climate change and sea level rise.
Our last 2018 sampling day is Tuesday, November 13th. Anyone interested in joining our volunteer sampling team should contact the TRWA office and plan on attending our next sampler training event scheduled for the last Saturday in February (2/23/2019).