French River Connection
Water Quality Monitoring

In 2016 our  Water Quality Monitoring Campaign  included 15 sites which have been monitored monthly for eight years or more, and an additional site at the point where Route 56 crosses the river, for the third year.  We use the TROLL 9500 water quality monitoring device provided by The Last Green Valley. Data we collect includes dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, turbidity, and conductivity. Our program is conducted  in accordance with a Quality Assurance Program Plan developed by the Last Green Valley for all the users of their equipment.  We also collected samples for E. Coli and Nitrate testing at one site.  Monitoring was conducted from June through September.

There are four noteworthy results of our 2016 campaign (our twelth):

In general, parameters are consistent with results of previous years, contributing to the strength of our baseline understanding of the river and its tributaries.

Flow during the summer months was very low this year as it was in 2014 and 2015, contributing to many readings of high conductivity throughout the watershed, and higher highs than are usually seen.

Since 2010, we have been concerned about deepening and widening dips in dissolved oxygen readings taken at midsummer at the Dudley Road, Harwood Street and  the Lowe's Brook sites. Although the dips continue to be present, there is no continuing trend toward lower and lower values. Finding the cause of this remains an objective.

High levels of E. Coli were found at the Potash Brook site, which is within a well-head area. The source of this should be investigated further.

See our 2016  Water Quality Monitoring Report

Links to other reports can be found in the

Thanks to The Last Green Valley for the use of their equipment and calibration materials, without which we could not afford this program.  And thanks especially to our volunteers, who now number more than 65 over the years, for their dedication and their willingness to brave the elements and the insects to achieve such high quality results.

Please contact Jack Josti to volunteer for our 2017 campaign.

The In-Situ TROLL 9500 and associated Rugged Reader
Above, a three-person team including two Shepherd Hill students collects data near Clara Barton Road. In addition to the chemical data, volunteers note ambient and recent weather conditions, water appearance and odor, plant and animal life, and water level or flow.
In November 2009, MASS DEP published a French and Quinebaug River Watersheds 2004-2008 Water Quality Assessment Report.

This report refers often to our findings reported in previous years, and lists recommendations based on them. This is a tribute to the dedication of the more than 30 volunteers who spent a Saturday morning on the river during the first four years of our program.

The French River suffered from more than a century of degradation from industrial activity along its banks, and its waters are listed as impaired by the Department of Environmental Protection, but life has returned to much of the river, with fish populations and an abundance of wildlife in the river corridor. The objectives of our monitoring program are:

To demonstrate to the public that the river is worthy of protection and enjoyment.

Locate pollution sources and report our findings to local and state officials for appropriate action.

Gather data to use when commenting to local officials on decisions before them affecting the river.

By maintaining a monitoring program over many years, document trends in the health of the river.

Engage community members in the monitoring program to interest them in the river as a community resource
E. Coli colonies ready to count