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Nashua;33.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/bkn.png;2014-11-21 12:32:35
Saturday, June 21, 2014

Monitoring shows healthy levels on Merrimack, Souhegan rivers

A beautiful day on local rivers for monitors checking water quality was the norm again Tuesday for the second sampling session of the season.

Souhegan Watershed Association monitors found warm air and equal water temperatures, flowering mountain laurel, lots of animal tracks, schools of small fish, a great blue heron on the river in the middle of Milford, ducks swimming in the middle of Wilton – and unfortunately, lush poison ivy and lots of trash left at a number of the 32 sites checked along the Souhegan and Merrimack rivers. ...

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A beautiful day on local rivers for monitors checking water quality was the norm again Tuesday for the second sampling session of the season.

Souhegan Watershed Association monitors found warm air and equal water temperatures, flowering mountain laurel, lots of animal tracks, schools of small fish, a great blue heron on the river in the middle of Milford, ducks swimming in the middle of Wilton – and unfortunately, lush poison ivy and lots of trash left at a number of the 32 sites checked along the Souhegan and Merrimack rivers.

The monitors, all volunteers, tested for E. coli, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and air and water temperatures – and then picked up most of the trash.

Generally, E. coli numbers rise, sometimes to unhealthy levels, after heavy rains following a dry spell. Dry weather for the three days preceding the testing, except for some showers at the headwaters of the Souhegan, showed the rivers in a generally healthy condition. E. coli counts went above the 88 level deemed safe by the SWA as the Souhegan passed through the centers of the towns along the way – Wilton, Milford and Amherst. But none were at an alarming level.

The highest level, 387, was sampled at the conservation land across from Amherst Country Club. Beaver Brook flows through the center of Amherst, and probably brought the pollution level up. The test site is just below the mouth of the brook.

A site a short distance upstream at the Canoeport on Route 122 was at an acceptable 82, and the river diluted the bacteria to 108 downstream at the canoe port on Boston Post Road, near the high school.

A level of 238, much higher than expected, showed up at Highbridge in New Ipswich, near Warwick Mills. There may be some disturbance here because the Department of Transportation prepares to redo the bridge, and that may be the cause of the increase. Usually, the upper stretch of the Souhegan from Ashburnham, Mass., to the horseshoe in Wilton tests OK.

Except for the Boston Post Road canoe port, all of the usual swimming holes tested at an acceptable level.

The program looks for bacteria levels below 88 to indicate completely safe swimming areas. Levels below 126 are probably OK for most swimmers, but gastrointestinal problems and ear and eye infections may occur for sensitive individuals. Levels above 126 should be avoided.

Watson Park in Merrimack is being tested on a weekly basis, and the results are posted at the park. The level was 56 this week.

The program tests the Merrimack River at 11 sites from Manchester to Tyngsborough, Mass. The results for the Manchester area weren’t available at his writing, but all of the results will be posted at nashua
telegraph.com/special
reportsrivertestresults and at souheganriver.org.

The sites through Merrimack, Nashua, Hudson and Tyngsborough all tested at an acceptable level. The access at Thorntons Ferry in Merrimack was slightly high at 108. All others were below 88.

The next test will be done July 1. There are still sites in Milford and Wilton that could use a volunteer. Tests take about a half-hour and are conducted every other Tuesday morning through September.

Anyone interested can email Karen Mattor at swawatertesting@gmail.com for more information.

Also, anyone interested in doing a special project testing for macroinvertebrates can call for information. This could be a good Scout or high school project for the summer.

The tests are all done by certified personnel at the wastewater treatment plants in Manchester, Milford, Nashua and Merrimack.

The program is coordinated by the Souhegan Watershed Association.