Water Quality

2005-2017 Program Results

Early in 2018 we undertook a program to combine all of the TROLL data collected from 2005 to the present. While we had noted differences and trends from adjacent recent years, we had lost the ability to identify trends which might be evident over longer time scales, and which might suggest changes to our sampling program.


Our analysis  identified general increases in pH, Specific Conductivity, and Temperature over the time period. Changes in pH may be the result of a decrease in the contaminants causing acid rain. Specific Conductivity increases may be related to the increased use of chemicals to treat streets in winter. Finally, the temperature increases may be simply consistent with global climate trends. In our 2019 report we confirmed that this trend continues,

In recent years we have restricted our sampling to the summer months, and as a result we are unable to comment on results from spring and fall. We believe we should return to a longer sampling season

2020 Campaign


In 2020 our  Water Quality Monitoring Campaign  included 16 sites which have been monitored for at least seven years. We sampled three times during the summer months.  We use the MANTA water quality monitoring device provided by The Last Green Valley.  Data we collect includes dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, turbidity, conductivity, and, for the second year, chloride concentrations. 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. 

In general, parameters are consistent with results of previous years, contributing to the strength of our baseline understanding of the river and its tributaries. Low flow was a factor in 2020, contributing to high levels of conductivity, but did not seem to depress dissolved Oxygen levels much. 

This year, we were pleased to have been awarded a Commonwealth of Massachusetts Watershed  Monitoring Grant for supplies to continue E. Coli monitoring for a second year.  The grant is designed to support watershed groups working with MassDEP to more comprehensively assess the health and safety of Massachusetts’ surface waters. We collected and analyzed E. Coli levels at ten sites along the French River in Oxford and Webster, using an approved  Quality Assurance Plan.  We found all river segments normally used for kayaking and boating met or exceeded Class C water quality for E. Coli, and two met the standard for Class B. 

Thanks to The Last Green Valley for the use of their equipment and calibration materials, and especially to our volunteers, who now number more than 70 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 2021 campaign.

Links to other reports can be found in the Archives

A 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

FRC lab.jpg


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


Manta water quality sonde and readout device

A volunteer utilizes our new E. Coli laboratory, purchased with A MassDEP grant, to analyze water sample for contaminants