Development of a Water Quality Monitoring Strategy for Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River Estuary, Massachusetts

Science Center Objects

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) are collaborating on a study to develop a water quality monitoring strategy for Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River Estuary.

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection fixed-site monitoring station  in Mount Hope Bay

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Taunton River fixed-site monitoring station (B11), collecting continuous water-quality data in Mt Hope Bay near Somerset, MA. In the background are the former Brayton Point Power Plant cooling towers, demolished on April 27, 2019.

(Credit: David Armstrong, US Geological Survey, New England WSC. Public domain.)

MassDEP is interested in water quality data in Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River Estuary to characterize current water quality conditions, assess nutrient-related impacts, and capture conditions before and after planned upgrades to wastewater treatment facilities (WWTF).  In addition, MassDEP has an ongoing project to review existing coastal and marine dissolved oxygen (DO) criteria in the Massachusetts Surface Water Quality Standards (SWQS: 314 CMR 4.00).  Potential revisions to these coastal and marine DO criteria may require updated water quality monitoring guidelines that would inform appropriate data collection.  The Mount Hope Bay and Taunton River Estuary monitoring strategy will help guide MassDEP’s efforts to develop a statewide approach for monitoring estuaries that would support multiple water quality management objectives.

Study objectives

The objective for this project is to develop a water quality monitoring strategy for Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River Estuary. The study area extends from Mount Hope Bay and the Rhode Island border to just above the Taunton WWTP. The monitoring strategy also supports several specific MassDEP management objectives by developing water quality monitoring plans to:

  1. Support MassDEP’s review of existing coastal and marine DO criteria;
  2. Assess waterbody conditions with respect to the Massachusetts SWQS;
  3. Update the delineation of saltwater segments in the Taunton River Estuary;
  4. Estimate the amount of nitrogen (nitrogen load) flowing into Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River Estuary; and
  5. Assess data requirements to potentially support water quality models for Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River Estuary.

An additional goal of the monitoring strategy is to create and strengthen partnerships with stakeholders interested in the water quality of Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River Estuary.

 

An overview of Surface Water Quality Standards Review and Development Activities at the MassDEP Watershed Planning Program can be found here:

https://www.mass.gov/regulations/314-CMR-4-the-massachusetts-surface-water-quality-standards