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APPENDIX B - 1998 DEP DWM NASHUA RIVER BASIN SURVEY REPORT




MATERIALS AND METHODS

The DWM began sampling in May 1998 and continued through October 1998. The DWM sampling plan matrix is summarized in Table B1. Toxics in fish flesh were monitored in two lakes during September and October. Sampling components at river stations included: stream discharge measurements, in-situ Hydrolab measurements, physico-chemical and nutrient sampling, fecal coliform bacteria sampling, benthic macroinvertebrate and periphyton sampling. In addition, special studies in four impounded river reaches included phytoplankton identifications and chlorophyll-a analyses. Synoptic surveys of lakes were conducted during July and August 1998 to coincide with the maximum extent of macrophyte growth. Each sampling component is described in the sections that follow.


Table B1. 1998 DEP-DWM Nashua River Basin surveys sampling matrix.


SAMPLING LOCATIONS AND SEGMENT NUMBERS

STATION1

1998

MAY


1998

JUNE


1998

JULY


1998

AUGUST


1998

SEPTEMBER



1998

OCTOBER


Quinapoxet River benthic station approx. 175 meters downstream/north from River Street, Holden, (in locality of Canada Mills), MA81-32

QP00













Ma




Stillwater River benthic station approx. 20 meters upstream/northwest of Crowley Road, Sterling, MA81-31

SL00













Ma




Nashua River “South Branch”, outlet Lancaster Mill Pond to Clinton WWTP, MA81-08

NS17

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H, BOD

C,N,B,H,BOD

C,N,B,H,Ma,P1

C,N,B,H

Nashua River “South Branch”, Clinton WWTP to confluence with North Nashua River, MA81-09

NS19

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H, BOD

C,N,B,H,BOD

C,N,B,H,Ma

C,N,B,H

Whitman River, outlet Lake Wampanoag to inlet Snows Millpond, MA81-11

NT34













P1




Snows Millpond



















T

North Nashua River, outlet Snows Millpond to Fitchburg Paper Company Dam #1, MA81-01

NN01

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H, BOD

C,N,B,H,BOD

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H

NN03













Ma




North Nashua River, Fitchburg Paper Company Dam #1 to Fitchburg East WWTP, MA81-02

NN09

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H, BOD

C,N,B,H,BOD

C,N,B,H,Ma,P1

C,N,B,H

Lake Whalom
















T

T

North Nashua River, Fitchburg East WWTP to Leominster WWTP, MA81-03

NN10A













Ma




North Nashua River, Leominster WWTP to confluence with Nashua River, MA81-04

NN12

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H, BOD

C,N,B,H,BOD

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H

NN13













Ma,P1




1 Sampling did not necessarily occur at the same exact location although that which occurred in the general vicinity of the sampling station is listed together.
A=Chlorophyll-a; AI=Integrated chlorophyll-a; B=Bacteria (fecal coliform, E. coli); BOD=Biochemical oxygen demand; C=Chemistry (alkalinity, hardness, chlorides, suspended solids, turbidity); DP=Dissolved phosphorus; H=Hydrolab multiprobe meter (pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, temperature, total dissolved solids); Ma=Macroinvertebrate kick sampling and habitat assessment; N=Nutrients (total phosphorus, ammonia, nitrate-nitrogen); P1=Periphyton; P2=Phytoplankton; Q=Stream discharge measurements; T=Toxics in fish tissue (Cd, Pb, Hg, As, Se, % lipids, PCBs, organochlorine pesticides); TP=Total phosphorus.
Table B1. Continued. 1998 DEP-DWM Nashua River Basin surveys sampling matrix.


SAMPLING LOCATIONS AND SEGMENT NUMBERS

STATION1

1998

MAY


1998

JUNE


1998

JULY


1998

AUGUST


1998

SEPTEMBER



1998

OCTOBER


Nashua River, confluence with North Nashua River to confluence with Squannacook River, MA81-05

NM21

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H, BOD,Q

C,N,B,H,BOD,Q

C,N,B,H,Q

C,N,B,H,Q

NM21A

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H, BOD

C,N,B,H,BOD

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H




ICEHSEDM







TP,DP,A,AI,H,P2

TP,DP,A,AI,H,P2










NM23B













Ma,P1







NM25A
















C,N,B,S,H




NM25

C,N,B,H,Q

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H, BOD,Q

C,N,B,H,BOD,Q

C,N,B,H,Q

Q

Squannacook River , confluence of Mason Brook and Willard Brook to Hollingsworth and Vose WWTP, MA81-18

NT60A

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H, BOD

C,N,B,H,BOD

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H

Squannacook River , Hollingsworth and Vose WWTP to confluence with Nashua River, MA81-19

NT61













Ma




Nashua River, confluence with Squannacook River to Pepperell Dam, MA81-06

GROTSCH







TP,DP,A,AI,H,P2

TP,DP,A,AI,H,P2







INLTPEPPD







TP,DP,A,AI,H,P2

TP,DP,A,AI,H,P2










OUTPEPPD







TP,DP,A,AI,H,P2

TP,DP,A,AI,H,P2







Nissitissit River, New Hampshire state line to confluence with Nashua River, MA81-21

NT67













Ma,P1




NT68

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,BOD

C,N,B,H,BOD

C,N,B,H,Ma,P1

C,N,B,H

Nashua River, Pepperell Dam to New Hampshire state line, MA81-07

NM29













Ma,P1




NM29A

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H, BOD

C,N,B,H,BOD

C,N,B,H

C,N,B,H




NM30













Ma,P1




1 Sampling did not necessarily occur at the same exact location although that which occurred in the general vicinity of the sampling station is listed together.
A=Chlorophyll-a; AI=Integrated chlorophyll-a; B=Bacteria (fecal coliform, E. coli); BOD=Biochemical oxygen demand; C=Chemistry (alkalinity, hardness, chlorides, suspended solids, turbidity); DP=Dissolved phosphorus; H=Hydrolab multiprobe meter (pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, temperature, total dissolved solids); Ma=Macroinvertebrate kick sampling and habitat assessment; N=Nutrients (total phosphorus, ammonia, nitrate-nitrogen); P1=Periphyton; P2=Phytoplankton; Q=Stream discharge measurements; T=Toxics in fish tissue (Cd, Pb, Hg, As, Se, % lipids, PCBs, organochlorine pesticides); TP=Total phosphorus.
NOTE: Data was also collected as part of project 97-09/104 Numeric Biocriteria authorized under 104(b)(3) Wetlands and Water Quality Grant Program (see Appendix E of this report). While this station is not included in this matrix, the data are presented in Table B5 and the station is depicted in Figure B2.
SURVEY CONDITIONS
Conditions prior to each survey were characterized by analyzing precipitation and streamflow data. Two weather station precipitation gages, Kendall Reservoir #423, Holden and EOS Leominster WWTP #517, Leominster were used to determine precipitation and weather conditions in the five days prior to and on the sampling dates. Data from these stations was provided by the DEM Office of Water Resources (MA

D



EM 1998). Discharge (hereinafter referred to as streamflow) and duration data were obtained from three continuous USGS stream gages in the basin; North Nashua River at Fitchburg (01094400), North Nashua River near Leominster (01094500), and Squannacook River near West Groton (01096000) (Figure B1). Streamflow statistics for the period-of-records for the USGS gages are available from USGS. These data can be found in their Water Resources Data for Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Water Year 1998 and 1999 reports (Socolow et al., 1999 and 2000) and the Gazetteer of Hydrologic Characteristics of Streams in Massachusetts—Merrimack River Basin (Wandle and Fontaine 1984). The period of record (POR) for the discharge gages are: North Nashua River at Fitchburg; October 1972 to present, North Nashua River near Leominster; September 1935 to present, Squannacook River near West Groton; October 1949 to present.

Figure B1. Location of gaging stations in the Nashua River Basin.
In addition to gage data, streamflow was measured at two additional stations in the Nashua River Basin by DEP-DWM personnel using Price meters (models TU3793 or GN1018) according to standard operating procedures (TSB 1989). Data reduction and stream discharge calculations were performed at the DEP-DWM office in Worcester.
STREAM WATER QUALITY MONITORING
The water quality sampling effort was conducted at the stations identified in Figure B2. Sampling at these synoptic monitoring locations included in situ measurements at each station using a Scout 2 Hydrolab multiparameter meter (water temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, total dissolved solids, and pH). Other parameters tested included: bacteria sampling (fecal coliform, E. coli, and Enterococcus),. physico-chemical variables (alkalinity, hardness, chloride, suspended solids, and turbidity), nutrient concentrations (total and dissolved phosphorus, nitrate nitrogen, and ammonia), and BOD.







Figure B2. Location of 1998 water quality sampling stations in the Nashua River Basin. A station sampled in the basin by DEP DWM as part of the 104(b)3 Numeric Biocriteria project (97-09/104) is also shown.
Procedures used for water sampling and sample handling are described in the Grab Collection Techniques for DWM Water Quality Sampling, Standard Operating Procedure and the Hydrolab® Series 3 Multiprobe, Standard Operating Procedure (MA DEP 1999a and b) Basins Program Standard Operating Procedures River and Stream Monitoring (MA DEP 1989). The Wall Experiment Station (WES), the Department’s analytical laboratory, supplied all sample bottles and field preservatives, which were prepared according to the WES Laboratory Quality Assurance Plan and Standard Operating Procedures (MA DEP 1994). Samples were preserved in the field as necessary, transported on ice to WES, and analyzed according to the WES Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). The quality control protocol that was followed for field and equipment blank samples is described in Appendix A of this report. Both quality control samples (field blanks, trip blanks, and split samples) and raw water quality samples were transported on ice to WES on each sampling date; they were analyzed subsequently according to the WES SOP.
MACROINVERTEBRATES
Aquatic macroinvertebrates were collected from selected sites (Figure B3) within the Nashua River Watershed by kick-sampling. Ten individual kicks taken within a 100-m reach of the selected stream were composited, representing a total sample area of 2 m2. Collected material was transferred to a plastic jar, labeled, and preserved with denatured 95% ethanol (Appendix C). Habitat quality was scored at each sampling location following a habitat assessment procedure modified from Plafkin et al. (1989).
Details related to sample handling, processing, and analysis are provided in the form of technical memoranda as follows:

Appendix C - author: Robert Nuzzo. Biological Assessment of Streams in the Nashua River Watershed From 1998 Data


PERIPHYTON and PHYTOPLANKTON
Periphyton was collected at nine stations along the Nashua River and its tributaries during the summer of 1998: South Branch Nashua River (NS17U), Whitman River (NT34), North Branch of the Nashua River (NN09, NN13), Nashua River (NM23B, NM29, NM30), Nissitissit River (NT67, NT68). Phytoplankton samples were collected on July 21 and 22, 1998 at four sites: Ice House Dam Impoundment, Nashua River at Groton School, Groton, the inlet to Pepperell Pond, Pepperell and the outlet from Pepperell Pond. Phytoplankton sampling was repeated on August 11 and 12. A technical memorandum by Joan Beskenis of DEP DWM entitled Nashua River 1998 Chlorophyll a, Phytoplankton and Periphyton Sampling is provided in Appendix D of this report.
FISH TOXICS
The fish toxics monitoring program is a cooperative effort between three DEP Offices/Divisions, (i.e., Watershed Management, Research and Standards, and Environmental Analysis), Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Environmental Law Enforcement, and the Department of Public Health (DPH). Fish tissue monitoring is conducted to assess the concentrations of toxic contaminants in freshwater fish, identify waterbodies where those concentrations may pose a risk to human health, and identify waters where toxic chemicals may impact fish and other aquatic life. Fish tissue analysis has been restricted to edible fillets. The fish toxics monitoring was designed to screen the edible fillets of several species of fish representing different feeding guilds (i.e., bottom dwelling omnivores, top-level predators, etc.) for the presence of heavy metals, PCBs and organochlorine pesticides and to assess human health risks associated with the consumption of freshwater fishes.
The characteristics of each site determine the method(s) of sample collection. Electrofishing is performed by, maneuvering the boat through the littoral zone and shallow water habitat of the waterbody, and collecting most fish shocked. Fish collected by electrofishing are stored in a live well filled with site water until the completion of sampling. Trotlines are baited with nightcrawlers or shiners, set, and left overnight. Gill nets are set in various locations and checked every two hours. Gill nets are occasionally

F


igure B3.
Location of 1998 DWM benthic macroinvertebrate sampling and fish contaminant monitoring stations sampled in the Nashua River Watershed.

set overnight. Trotlines and gill nets set overnight are retrieved the following morning. After removal from the live well, trotlines, or gill nets, all fish to be included in the sample are stored on ice. In all cases, live fish, which are not included as part of the sample are released.


Uniform protocols, designed to assure accuracy and prevent cross-contamination of samples, were followed for collecting, processing and shipping fish collected. Fish were collected via electrofishing with a Cofelt electrofishing boat and trot lines at Whalom Lake and gill nets, rod & reel, and trot line at Snows Milpond. Lengths and weights were measured and fish were visually inspected for tumors, lesions, or other anomalies. Fish were collected from Lake Whalom (30 September/1 October) and Snows Millpond (2 October) (Figure B3) and the samples were placed in ice filled coolers and brought back to the laboratory for processing. Scale or pectoral fin spine samples were obtained from each fish to determine the age of the fish. Fish were filleted (skin off) on glass cutting boards and prepared for freezing. During laboratory processing all equipment used in the filleting process was rinsed with tap water to remove slime, scales, and other fluids such as blood, then re-rinsed in deionized water before (and/or after) each sample. Composite fillet samples targeted for metals analysis were placed in VWR 32-ounce high density polyethylene (HDPE) cups with covers. The opposite fillets (composites) were wrapped in aluminum foil for % lipids, PCBs and organochlorine pesticide analyses. Samples were tagged and frozen for subsequent delivery to the DEP’s Wall Experiment Station (WES).
Methods used at WES for metals analysis include the following:
Mercury is analyzed by a cold vapor method using a Perkin Elmer, FIMS (Flow Injection Mercury System) which uses Flow Injection Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy. Cadmium and lead are analyzed using a Perkin Elmer, Optima 3000 XL ICP – Optical Emission Spectrophotometer. Arsenic and selenium are analyzed using a Perkin Elmer, Zeeman 5100 PC, Platform Graphite Furnace, Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer.
PCB/organochlorine pesticide analysis was performed on a gas chromatograph equipped with an electron capture detector. Additional information on analytical techniques used at WES is available from the laboratory (MA DEP 1994).
LAKES
A series of synoptic surveys were conducted on a total 71 lakes, ponds or impoundments (the term "lakes" will hereafter be used to include all) in the Nashua River Watershed during July and August 1998. Thirty-six of the lakes are less than 50 acres in total surface area. The lakes surveyed in 1998 were located wholly or partly within 21 different communities and were fairly evenly distributed among them. The total surface acreage of the Nashua Watershed lakes is 10,732.1. Of that total, 93.0% or 9993.8 acres, was assessed during the 1998 surveys. Designated water supplies (i.e., Class A) accounted for approximately 61% (or 6,520 acres) of the assessed acreage.
From the information gathered during these surveys, three types of assessments were made on these lakes. First, they were assessed against the criteria for use support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Summary of Water Quality 1998 report (MA DEP 1998a). Next, the trophic status (level of nutrient enrichment) of each lake was evaluated. And last, the presence of non-native aquatic and/or wetland plant species was noted. Fish advisory information was obtained from the Department of Public Health (MA DPH July 1999).
Synoptic surveys consisted of taking observations from at least one access point on each lake (multiple access points on larger lakes). At each lake, an attempt was made to observe the entire surface area to determine the extent of areal macrophyte cover.
At each observation site the general water quality was noted and all aquatic and wetland macrophyte species were recorded along with their general abundance and an estimate of the total percent areal coverage of all species. Qualitative macrophyte observations were aided by conducting several hauls with a plant "rake”, which was constructed by bolting two garden rakes back-to-back, the handles cut to about half length, and then attached to about a 50' length of rope. Each time the rake was thrown to its maximum extension and then retrieved along the lake bottom. The rake was thrown several times in different directions from the observation site to provide more thorough coverage.
Where possible, transparency was measured using a standard 20-centimeter diameter Secchi disk attached to a rope with metric calibrations. When Secchi disk measurements were not feasible, transparency was estimated as being above or below 1.2 meters (based on the 4 foot Secchi disk bathing beach standard).
All observations were recorded on standardized field sheets. Assessments of trophic status and use impairment were made on site. Later, the assessments and supporting information were entered into the US EPA Water Body System database. Data on the presence of non-native plants were entered into a separate database intended for linking to the Massachusetts Geographic Information System (MassGIS).

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