The Blackstone River Coalition and Water Quality Monitoring

The Blackstone River Coalition (BRC) has conducted a volunteer watershed-wide water quality monitoring program on the river’s main stem and tributaries since 2004. The goal is to help create a clean, ecologically healthy river and watershed.

Our primary objectives for achieving this goal are to:

  • generate a robust database of information that permits statistical analysis of long-term trends;
  • identify hot-spots and acute concerns in real-time;
  • promote science-based land-use planning at the local level by providing municipal leaders with monitoring results and;
  • empower a broad network of Blackstone River stewards who can advocate for watershed protection at the community level.

With the invaluable assistance of nearly 100 field and lab volunteers, we currently test 75 sites from Worcester to Pawtucket. Once a month from April through November, field monitors measure temperature and depth, record aesthetic features including trash and erosion, conduct a test for dissolved oxygen, and collect a grab sample that is analyzed by lab volunteers for phosphates, nitrates, turbidity, and conductivity. The WQM program is divided into three teams – each with its own Field Coordinator: the Headwaters Team testing Worcester and surrounding towns, the Midreach Team testing from Upton to Blackstone, and the Rhode Island Team testing the northern part of the state from Burrillville to Woonsocket and down to Pawtucket.

This video was created to serve as an annual refresher training for current field monitors and to supplement in-person training for new monitors. If you are interested in joining the BRC’s volunteer WQM program, please contact Susan Thomas, Program Coordinator, at slthomas@massaudubon.org.

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