Our most recent sampling summary spreadsheets showing the results for April through August are available here and at the Water Quality Monitoring TRWA website home page tab if you click on the sample bottles picture or link in the Documents section.
In August we sampled just before a large rainstorm. River flow was still relatively high from an unusually wet summer but not as high as it might have been. Like last month despite high stream flow to dilute wastewater discharges we saw elevated nitrate concentration values in the Matfield River and Taunton main stem. This, demonstrates a watershed with too much nitrogen and illustrates the importance of EPA issuing new permits to Somerset and Fall River with nitrogen reduction requirements to help reduce overall nitrogen in the estuary. As mentioned last month TRWA and Save The Bay in RI have a meeting scheduled with EPA Region 1 to discuss permit issuance.
The high stormwater runoff resulted in elevated phosphorus measured in-stream at several locations illustrating a need for better stormwater management in the watershed. As mentioned last month, we are pleased that EPA Region 1 was recently ordered by federal court to improve stormwater management in the Charles, Mystic and Neponset River watersheds around Boston by requiring permits for currently unregulated commercial sources. With this recent decision, the EPA has a clear timeline: they are required to issue these draft permits by September 2024, which is a huge step for ensuring cleaner water in local Boston rivers! Read the CLF article here>>. The hope is this program will be expanded to the Taunton River watershed which similarly has documented water quality standards violations caused by stormwater.
All locations violated the bacteria water quality standards but by smaller margins than last month. This is a result of inadequate stormwater management. There is a working group attempting to develop updated stormwater regulations for new development since February 2020 read about the working group here but the pace is glacial while more intense storms caused by climate change are happening now. TRWA is working with the other state watershed groups to try to hasten this effort. We also support action to regulate stormwater from large existing commercial development which was the subject of the Charles River lawsuit mentioned above.