Appendix a technical Memorandum tm-31-2 farmington river watershed 2001 Biological Assessment

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Technical Memorandum TM-31-2

FARMINGTON RIVER Watershed 2001 Biological Assessment

John F. Fiorentino

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Division of Watershed Management

Worcester, MA
1 October 2003


Introduction 3

Methods 6 Macroinvertebrate Sampling 6

Macroinvertebrate Sample Processing and Analysis 7

Habitat Assessment 8

Results and Discussion 9

FR09 – Hubbard Brook 10

FR10 – Valley Brook 11

FR01B – West Branch Farmington River 12 FR05B – West Branch Farmington River 13 FR04 – Benton Brook 14 FR03 – Fall River 15

FR06B – Clam River 16

FR08A – Sandy Brook 17
Summary and Recommendations 19

Literature Cited 23

Appendix 25

Tables and Figures

Table 1. Biomonitoring station locations 4

Table 2. Issues/Perceived problems addressed during 2001 survey 4
Figure 1. Map showing biomonitoring station locations 5
Figure 2. MA DEP biologist conducting macroinvertebrate “kick” sampling 6

Biological monitoring is a useful means of detecting anthropogenic impacts to the aquatic community. Resident biota (e.g., benthic macroinvertebrates, fish, periphyton) in a water body are natural monitors of environmental quality and can reveal the effects of episodic and cumulative pollution and habitat alteration (Barbour et al. 1999, Barbour et al. 1995). Biological surveys and assessments are the primary approaches to biomonitoring.
As part of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection/ Division of Watershed Management’s (MA DEP/DWM) 2001 Farmington River watershed assessments, aquatic benthic macroinvertebrate biomonitoring was conducted to evaluate the biological health of various streams within the watershed. A total of 8 biomonitoring stations were sampled to investigate the effects of various nonpoint source (NPS) stressors on resident benthic communities. All stations sampled during the 2001 survey were historical MA DEP biomonitoring stations—most recently assessed in 1996 (Fiorentino 1997; MA DEP 1998). The 2001 benthos data, then, will allow MA DEP to determine if water quality and habitat conditions have improved or worsened over time. To minimize the effects of temporal (seasonal and year to year) variability, sampling was conducted at approximately the same time of the month as the 1996 biosurveys. Sampling locations, along with station identification numbers and sampling dates for benthos monitoring, are noted in Table 1. Sampling locations are also shown in Figure 1.
To provide additional information necessary for making basin-wide aquatic life use-support determinations required by Section 305(b) of the Clean Water Act, all Farmington River watershed macroinvertebrate biomonitoring stations were compared to a regional reference station most representative of the “best attainable” (i.e., least-impacted) conditions in the watershed. Use of a regional reference station is particularly useful in assessing nonpoint source pollution (Hughes 1989), as well as nutrient/BOD loadings originating from multiple and/or unknown sources in a watershed. As with the 1996 biomonitoring survey, regional reference stations were established in Hubbard Brook (fourth-order) and Valley Brook (second/third-order). Both stations were unaffected by point sources of water pollution (there are no known point source discharges in their watersheds), and they were also assumed (based on topographic map examinations and field reconnaissance) to be relatively unimpacted by nonpoint sources. The decision of which reference station to use for comparisons to a study site was based on comparability of stream morphology, flow regimes, and drainage area. In some cases, study sites were compared to both reference stations.
During "year 1" of its “5-year basin cycle”, problem areas within the Farmington River watershed were better defined through such processes as coordination with appropriate groups (EOEA Farmington River Watershed Team, local watershed associations, MA DEP/DWM, MA DEP/WERO), assessing existing data, and conducting site visits. Following these activities, the 2001 biomonitoring plan was more closely focused and the study objectives better defined. Table 2 includes a summary of the perceived problems and primary issues—both historical and current—addressed during the 2001 Farmington River watershed biomonitoring survey.
The main objectives of biomonitoring in the Farmington River watershed were: (a) to determine the biological health of streams within the watershed by conducting assessments based on aquatic macroinvertebrate communities; and (b) to identify problem stream segments so that efforts can be focused on developing stormwater management and/or control of other nonpoint source pollution. Specific tasks were:

  1. Conduct benthic macroinvertebrate sampling and habitat assessments at locations throughout the Farmington River watershed;

  1. Based upon the benthic macroinvertebrate and habitat data, identify river segments within the watershed with potential nonpoint source pollution problems; and

  1. Using the benthic macroinvertebrate data, and supporting water chemistry (when available) and field/habitat data:

  • assess the types of water quality and/or water quantity problems that are present.

  • make recommendations for remedial actions or additional monitoring and assessment.

  • provide macroinvertebrate and habitat data to MA DEP/DWM’s Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program for assessments of aquatic life use-support status required by Section 305(b) of the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA).

  • provide macroinvertebrate and habitat data for other informational needs of Massachusetts regulatory agencies.

Table 1. List of biomonitoring stations sampled during the 2001 Farmington River watershed survey, including station identification number, mile point (distance from mouth), upstream drainage area, station description, and date.

Station ID





Area (mi2)

Farmington River Watershed

Station Description

Sampling Date







Hubbard Brook, 300 m upstream from West Hartland Rd., Granville, MA

Valley Brook, 500 m upstream from Rt. 57, Granville, MA
West Branch Farmington River, upstream from Otis, near Rt. 8, Otis, MA
West Branch Farmington River, 5 m upstream from Clark Rd., Sandisfield, MA
Benton Brook, 150 m downstream from Beech Plain Rd., Sandisfield, MA
Fall River, 20 m upstream from Reservoir Rd., Otis, MA
Clam River, 10 m upstream from Beech Plain Rd., Sandisfield, MA
Sandy Brook, 500 m downstream from Norfolk Rd., Sandisfield, MA

13 August 2001

13 August 2001
14 August 2001
13 August 2001
14 August 2001
14 August 2001
13 August 2001
14 August 2001

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