Water Quality

New for 2019: We are pleased to have been awarded a Commonwealth of Massachusetts Watershed  Monitoring Grant. The grants are designed to support watershed groups working with MassDEP to more comprehensively assess the health and safety of Massachusetts’ surface waters. This new grant will cover the cost of equipment that will allow us to conduct bacteria monitoring and provide the results for entry into the State data portal. We will collect and analyze for E. Coli in 10 sites along the French River in Oxford and Webster.

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 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

2018 Campaign


In 2018 our  Water Quality Monitoring Campaign  included 15 sites which have been monitored monthly for ten years or more, and an additional site at the point where Route 56 crosses the river, for the fifth year.  We use the TROLL 9500 water quality monitoring device provided by The Last Green Valley, and because of difficulty with that device, a TROLL belonging to the town of Charlton. 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 a limited amount of e. coli data and for the first time, some data on chlorides.  Monitoring was conducted from April through October, with gaps at some sites due to equipment malfunctions.

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

Thanks to The Last Green Valley and the town of Charlton 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 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 2019 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


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

The In-Situ TROLL and associated rugged reader sampling device