Literature cited




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conclusions and recommendations


The RBP data suggest little has changed in the Nashua River and its tributaries since 1985 except in the MWRA/Clinton WWTP bracket. There is evidence that some improvement in aquatic community health

may be taking place downstream from the treatment plant. Though the 1998 RBP comparison of the downstream station (1998NS19) to the reference (1998SL00) indicates moderate impacts downstream from the WWTP, there is a 25% difference in the habitat scores. This could be enough of a factor to change the interpretation of the outcome from moderately impacted to slightly impacted. In fact, when comparing 1998NS19 to 1998NS17 (the upstream half of the bracket on the WWTP) the resulting rating of non-slightly impacted implies little additional impact to the river between the two. Attributing at least a portion of the detected impact to habitat influences is not intended to dismiss significance of the impact but to suggest that management efforts may need to be directed toward habitat protection/restoration. At least some of the habitat limitations, however, may be due to the inherent nature of the soils and the shallow slope of the river (less than 3 m in 2 km) from the WWTP to the confluence with the North Nashua River.


Three other sites were rated moderately impacted: 1998NN09, 1998NM23B, and 1998NM29. These sites all had habitat scores comparable to the reference site. For these sites, then, pollution stressors likely outweigh habitat factors. The combined effects of effluents and urban runoff may be responsible for the poor result at 1998NN09. Sewage odors and extreme turbidity were suggestive of wastewater effluent impacts at stations 1998NM23B and 1998NM29, but nonpoint source influences may also play a substantial role.
With the exception of 1998QP00 and 1998NT67, all the remaining study sites had RBP scores categorizing them as slightly impacted. For these sites other data, or perhaps additional biomonitoring data, will need to be considered to help determine the need for, and priority for corrective actions.
Based on benthos data collected in 1977, Bilger and Travis (1978) provided characterizations of many of the same Nashua River watershed sites sampled in 1998. Contrasting these data and descriptions with current results demonstrates how far water quality in the watershed has come. The most striking changes were at NN03 and NS19. In 1977 NN03 had “. . . a slime covered bottom . . . “ and the benthic community was predominantly chironomids. In 1998 this same site was characterized as having only sparse algal coverage and no obvious sludge deposits. Its EPT index was 11 (versus 1 in 1977), EPT individuals were in greater abundance than chironomids (whereas in 1977 it was mostly chironomids), and total richness was more than three times greater than in 1977 (25 versus 7). Similarly, NS19 was described from 1977 field observations as having greyish color and having a septic odor. In 1998 field notes recorded good water clarity and no odors. Worms and chironomids dominated the assemblage in 1977 and there were no EPT taxa present; in 1998 there were no worms in the RBP samples, the EPT index was 9, EPT abundances exceeded chironomid abundance, and total richness was 21. Evidence of improvements in segments represented by NN10/10A, NS17, and NM30 can also be found—mostly as shifts from chironomid dominated assemblages to more diverse ones—when the 1977 data are contrasted with those from 1998. So while the 1998 biomonitoring assessment identifies problem areas within the watershed, a comparison of these assessment results to the ones from 1977 demonstrates that pollution abatement efforts (treatment plant upgrades, NPDES permit limits, etc.) have achieved a great deal in 20 years; and the conditions within the watershed should be expected to continue so long as diligent efforts are made to further pollution abatement. This may call for greater attention to nonpoint source pollution, but without sacrificing vigilance on the point sources.

literature cited


Bilger, M.D., and S.J. Travis. 1978. Nashua River 1977 water quality survey: benthic macroinvertebrate

analysis. Massachusetts Division of Water Pollution Control. Westborough, MA.


Johnson, A.S., J.L. Beskenis, R.J. Maietta, and R.M. Nuzzo. 1990. A biological assessment of water

quality conditions in the Nashua River and selected tributaries—results of the 1985 survey. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Water Pollution Control. Westborough, MA.


Novak, M.A. and R.W. Bode. 1992. Percent model affinity: a new measure of macroinvertebrate

community composition. JNABS 11(1):80-85.


Nuzzo, R.M., L.E. Kennedy, and R.J. Maietta. 1997. 1993 Nashua River watershed biological monitoring

survey. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Watershed Management. Worcester, MA.


Nuzzo, R.M. 1999. Standard operating procedures (working draft): water quality monitoring in streams

using aquatic macroinvertebrates. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Watershed Management. Worcester, MA.


Plafkin, J.L., M.T. Barbour, K.D. Porter, S.K. Gross, R.M. Hughes. 1989. Rapid bioassessment protocols

for use in streams and rivers: benthic macroinvertebrates and fish. EPA/444/4-89-001.


Table C-A1. Habitat scoring forms used with RBP sampling.


Protocols for Wadable Riffle/Run Prevalent Streams: those in moderate to high-gradient landscapes that sustain water velocities of approximately 30 cm/sec or greater. Natural streams have substrates primarily composed of coarse sediment particles (i.e., gravel or larger) or frequent coarse particulate aggregations along stream reaches.


Table C-A1. Continued. Habitat scoring forms used with RBP sampling.
Massachusetts DEP/DWM Habitat Assessment Field Scoring Sheet (page 2 of 2) Revision Date: June 1999






Table C-A2. Biomonitoring field data recording forms similar to those used for the Nashua River watershed survey.
Massachusetts DEP/DWM Biomonitoring Field Data Sheet (page 1 of 2) Revision Date: September 2000






Table C-A2. Continued. Biomonitoring field data recording forms similar to those used for the Nashua River watershed survey.
Massachusetts DEP/DWM Biomonitoring Field Data Sheet (page 2 of 2) Revision Date: September 2000







Table C-B1. List and counts of benthic macroinvertebrates in 100-organism subsamples from Nashua River watershed biomonitoring stations. Samples were collected in September 1998 at SL00—Stillwater River @ Crowley Rd., Sterling; QP00—Quinapoxet River @ River Rd., Holden; NN03—North Nashua River @ Mill #9, Fitchburg; NN09—North Nashua River @ Falulah Rd., Fitchburg; NN10A—North Nashua River @ Rte. 2, Leominster; NN13—North Nashua River @ Ponakin Mill, Lancaster; NS17—Nashua River @ MWRA-WWTP (upstream), Clinton; NS19—Nashua River @ Bolton Rd., Lancaster; NM23B—Nashua River @ RR bridge on McPhearson Rd., Ayer/Shirley; NM29—Nashua River @ covered bridge, Pepperell; NM30—Nashua River @ Rte. 111, Hollis, NH; NT61—Squannacook River @ Rte. 225, Shirley/Groton; NT67—Nissitissit River @ Prescott St., Pepperell; NT68—Nissitissit River @ Mill St., Pepperell.

Taxon/Metrics


FFG1

TolVal2

SL00

QP00

NN03

NN09

NN10A

NN13

NS17

NS19

NM23B

NM29

NM30

NT61

NT67

NT68

Amnicola grana

SC

5




























3













Laevapex fuscus

SC

7






















3



















Physidae

GC

8




























1













Gyraulus parvus

SC

8




























1













Pisidiidae

FC

6

5






















2

14

2

1







Nais alpina

GC

8



















1






















Nais communis

GC

8













1




2
















1




Pristinella osborni

GC

10



















2
















1




Lumbriculus variegatus

GC

5

2







1




























2

Crangonyx sp.

GC

6







1










2






















Hydrachnidia

PR

6






















1

2










1

1

Baetidae

GC

4







1










3

2







9

1

2

2

Acentrella sp.

SC

4































3










Acerpenna sp.

GC

5

1








































Baetis sp. (cerci only)

GC

6






















1

8
















Baetis sp. (short term. fil.)

GC

6
















6

























Baetis sp. (subeq. Term.)

GC

6













18







3

9










2




Baetidae (cerci only)

GC

6







2










2













1







Baetidae (subeq. Term.)

GC

6

1

2

3










1













1







Attenella sp.

GC

1






















2
















2

Eurylophella sp.

GC

2

1

2










1

3






















Serratella sp.

GC

2




2













1






















Heptageniidae

SC

4




2





































Stenonema sp.

SC

3

3




13




2

2

11

2

3




7

3

4

1

Isonychia sp.

GC

2

1

1































4

2

Leptophlebiidae

GC

2




2





































Paraleptophlebia sp.

GC

1

3








































Coenagrionidae

PR

9







4


































Gomphidae

PR

5





































1




Chloroperlidae

PR

1

1








































Perlidae

PR

1




1





































Acroneuria sp.

PR

0

1

1































1




Neoperla sp.

PR

3


































1






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