In general the year was characterized by historically low flows. In addition, the duration of highest water temperatures was longer than previously seen. These factors combined to produce low dissolved oxygen levels, occurring at more sites, at lower levels, for longer durations. There were twelve instances where state dissolved oxygen standards were not met. Similarly, conductivity was generally higher than in previous years, with particularly high levels at the Stateline, Commerce Parking Lot, both Mill Brook, Nancy Drive, and Old Mill Brook sites. There were 22 instances where state pH standards were not met. These occurred during high flow in March and April as well as during the warm months.
High nutrient levels were observed at the Stateline site, below the wastewater treatment plant.
We monitored during a storm in May and found slightly elevated turbidity throughout the watershed, measurable but not visually noticeable. However, the Potash Brook, Commerce Parking Lot, Mill Brook Webster Nursery, and Old Mill Brook sites were murky and exhibited mid-double-digit turbidity values, clearly carrying a sediment load. There were also instances of warm weather turbidity, with values in the low double digits at the Packard Pond, both Mill Brook, and Old Mill Brook sites. This has rarely been seen.
Other observations include:
In August, a beaver dam was started at the Mill Brook Bigelow Road site. At the end of our season, it was two feet high and its fate is under consideration by the town.
In the spring, we continued to observe that snow and sand has been pushed into the Commerce Parking Lot storm drain
From July on, flow was so low that a volunteer had to climb into the chasm that is the Low Pond outflow. It’s not unusual to have to do this a couple of times, but not five.
Potash Brook was dry on two occasions, and Packard Pond outflow was on one occasion not flowing enough to collect nutrient samples. Although flowing, Nancy Drive brook was once too shallow to sink the TROLL.
There is roadside trash accumulating around many sites, but only the Low Pond outflow is being used as a dumpsite for larger objects.
It continues to be striking how high individual temperatures found with the HOBOs can be, compared to the monthly collection of TROLL data taken in the morning, on days which may not be particularly hot.
Record high conductivity and the presence of oil slicks at the Mill Brook Webster Nursery site may indicate a developing problem. Cranston Print Works has ceased industrial activity there, and perhaps a problem which would have previously been seen is escaping notice.
Many thanks to our wonderful volunteers who made this work possible.