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Organization for
the Assabet River
Damonmill Square
Concord, MA 01742
Tel. (978-369-3956)
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 About StreamWatch Project 

[Project Description | Problem | Volunteer Opportunities | Project Partners]

Project Description

What fish live - or should be able to live - in the small streams of the Assabet and Concord River watershed? What happens to water levels and water quality in these small streams during the summer dry season? Are the streams healthy habitat for fish when water levels drop in streams? How can we do a better job of protecting fish habitat in the Assabet watershed?

StreamWatch Project
press announcement, Nov 01

StreamWatch is designed to answer these questions and to make the data we collect available on web. The project, originally funded by an EPA grant, started in January 2002 and continues as part of OAR's long-standing water quality monitoring program.


While the small tributary streams of the Assabet and Concord River watershed do not suffer eutrophication to the same degree as the mainstem rivers, they face problems of their own. The I-495 corridor on the western edge of the watershed, has been (and continues to be) one of the fastest-growing regions in Massachusetts in recent years. The industrial, commercial, and residential growth has put pressure on the region's natural resources, particularly its groundwater, river, and small streams.

Assabet River, Boon Rd, Stow

The protection and sustainability of these resources has become a serious concern. Most Assabet communities use water from ground water sources and discharge into the river, failing to replenish the local aquifers. These aquifers supply the clean, pure groundwater "baseflow" that is essential to keep the smaller streams flowing during the summer dry season. As the groundwater levels drop, the streams also dry up, and there is less baseflow available to the Assabet River to dilute the wastewater treatment effluent. During dry summers most of the Assabet watershed communities have needed to institute water-use restrictions of some type.

One of the goals of StreamWatch is to help watershed residents understand the connection between summertime low flows - and their own land and water use - and the health of both fish in local streams and local drinking water sources.

StreamWatch SignHow? OAR staff and volunteers measure water quality and quantity in the streams and compare the findings with healthy conditons for fish using a "Stream Health Index." The Stream Health readings are displayed each week on signs in the participating communities. The index readings and supporting data are also available on this website (click on "data" under each of the stream pages).

Staff Scientist Sue Flint is OAR's project manager for the StreamWatch project.


Tempermental Thirsty Green LawnDry streambed below the A1 Impoundment

Volunteer Opportunities

Learn first hand about the river and its tributaries; become a StreamWatch volunteer! You'll learn how to take measurements at one of our training sessions and you'll work with our team of volunteers over the summer. The data that you collect will help us understand the long term trends in the condition of the river and tributaries and give us a snap-shot of conditions in the tributaries each week. You can help in two ways:

  • Our monthly sampling teams collect water quality data on five Saturdays from June to September at sites along the Assabet River and in the tributaries. You can sign up to help on all four Saturday or as few as two.
  • Individual volunteers work on their own schedule each week from June to September to read a staff gage at one of our StreamWatch sites and/or update the StreamWatch sign for that site.

Volunteer opportunities for the summer of 2004 are filled. Email to be added to the contact list for 2005.

Water quality sampling dates for 2005:
Coming soon...


Project Partners (2002 - 2004)

The Assabet River Consortium is comprised of six communities with a common interest in the Assabet River. Hudson, Marlborough, Maynard, Northborough, Shrewsbury, and Westborough discharge treated effluent from wastewater treatment facilities into the river. The purpose of this Consortium is to address regional wastewater treatment and disposal issues. Operating under a requirement of their respective treatment facilities' National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Consortium is preparing a Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan and Environmental Impact Report, known as CWMP/EIR, to study regional wastewater treatment issues that affect the communities of the Assabet River. The consortium represents a departure from the region's history of parochialism. There are very few instances in New England where communities, such as the Assabet communities, have joined together to provide a basin-wide approach to solve environmental issues.

O.A.R. LogoThe mission of the Organization for the Assabet River is to protect, preserve, and enhance the natural and recreational features of the Assabet River, its tributaries, and its 177,000-square mile watershed. OAR's goals are to make the river safe for swimming and fishing throughout its length, provide recreational access to the river, restore fisheries and wildlife habitat, and protect drinking water, surface water, and groundwater quality and quantity. Since 1992 OAR has conducted a water quality monitoring program along the mainstem of the Assabet River, collecting data that helps guide the organization's education and advocacy for the river.

The United States Geological SurveyThe US Geological Survey serves the Nation by providing reliable scientific information to: describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.
The USGS serves as an independent fact-finding agency that collects, monitors, analyzes, and provides scientific understanding about natural resource conditions, issues, and problems. The value of the USGS to the Nation rests on its ability to carry out studies on a national scale and to sustain long-term monitoring and assessment of natural resources. Because it has no regulatory or management mandate, the USGS provides impartial science that serves the needs of our changing world. The diversity of scientific expertise enables the USGS to carry out large-scale, multidisciplinary investigations that build the base of knowledge about the Earth. In turn, decision makers at all levels of government--and citizens in all walks of life--have the information tools they need to address pressing societal issues.

Massachusetts Audubon SocietyMassachusetts Audubon Society is the largest conservation organization in New England, concentrating its efforts on protecting the nature of Massachusetts for people and wildlife. The Society protects nearly 29,000 acres of conservation land, conducts nature education programs for over 175,000 schoolchildren annually, and advocates for sound environmental policies. Across the state, Massachusetts Audubon Society operates 41 wildlife sanctuaries that are open to the public and serve as the base for its conservation, education, and advocacy efforts. At wildlife sanctuaries statewide, in classrooms and schoolyards, and through publications, the Society offers environmental education to people of all ages.

Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is charged with the conservation of all wildlife resources in the Commonwealth. The agency manages these resources in the best interest of the public and has conserved more than 120,000 acres of habitat.

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Damonmill Square
Concord, MA 01742
© 2002 Organization for the Assabet River
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