Our October sampling results are in so we now have the full 2023 sampling year April through October on the website at the Water Quality Monitoring tab if you click on the sample bottles picture or link in the Documents section.
Our 2023 sampling results were very useful and instructive. They clearly show the influence of climate change generated intense rainstorms in July and September. The high stormwater runoff from these storms increased total phosphorus levels and greatly increased bacteria levels which are the fingerprints of inadequate management of stormwater throughout the watershed. We obviously will be working with our statewide watershed organization partners to get the state and EPA to update their inadequate stormwater regulation.
During the dryer months like June and October we saw the familiar pattern of too much nitrogen for the health of the Taunton River estuary and Mount Hope Bay. TRWA and our partners Save The Bay in Rhode Island met with EPA Region 1 recently and obtained a commitment from EPA to issue draft permits for the long overdue Somerset and Fall River Clean Water Act permits with nitrogen effluent limitations similar to the 5 upriver plants by February of 2024. We will be checking in with EPA after the first of next year and intend to hold them to their commitment.
Finally, as mentioned last month A recent Southeast New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program (SNEP) newsletter mentioned that MassDEP’s two continuous monitoring buoys in Mount Hope Bay are now measuring more water quality violations in wet years. Before 4 of the 5 up river wastewater treatment plants were upgraded (Taunton is still under construction) the situation was reversed with poorer water quality measured in the Bay during drier years. This underscores as does our monitoring the need to complete nitrogen removal upgrades for all the watershed’s 7 major treatment plants and for much better regulation and treatment of stormwater. It also shows the need for reducing and finally eliminating Fall River’s combined sewer overflows.