Assabet River StreamWatch: Monitoring and Timely Reporting of Streamflow and Water Quality to Assess Habitat Stress for Native Fish Populations in the Assabet River Watershed, Massachusetts

EPA Grant Number: R829323
Title: Assabet River StreamWatch: Monitoring and Timely Reporting of Streamflow and Water Quality to Assess Habitat Stress for Native Fish Populations in the Assabet River Watershed, Massachusetts
Investigators: Blazar, Paul , Armstrong, D. E. , Beede, Susan , Bennett, Laurie , Blatt, Julia , Flint, Suzanne , Richards, Todd , Socolow, Roy , Wagner, Lou , Weiskel, Peter
Institution: Town of Hudson , Massachusetts Audubon Society , Massachusetts Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Environmental Law Enforcement , Organization for the Assabet River , United States Geological Survey [USGS]
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: January 1, 2002 through December 31, 2003 (Extended to December 31, 2004)
Project Amount: $432,692
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Statistics , Water , Ecosystems , Air , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration


The Assabet River StreamWatch project will characterize habitat conditions for native fish relative to streamflow and water quality in the main sub-basins of the Assabet River during the summer. There is an urgent need to educate residents and public officials about the importance of protecting streams and streamflows in the Assabet River watershed. The Assabet River main stem is nutrient saturated and large reductions in nutrient loads are needed to restore water quality in the river. For load reductions to be effective, the existing base flow in the river and its major tributaries must be preserved or augmented. The water resources of the entire basin are already under the combined strain of a rapidly growing population and water management practices that result in the net transfer of water out of the sub-basins. To address these problems there needs to be (1) a better understanding of water budgets and water quality in the sub-watersheds, and (2) a public constituency willing to change their personal water consumption habits and to allocate the resources needed to change water management infrastructures. This project will provide weekly streamflow, water quality, and habitat condition information, to the public, local decision makers, and scientists. Background information on the connections between surface-water and groundwater, and information on water conservation tools and approaches will be presented on the project web page and in a series of workshops in the watershed.


This project will focus on fish habitat because people can visualize and relate to fish more readily they can understand streamflow or water quality data. A "Habitat Health Index" will be developed relating weekly measured streamflow and water quality conditions to habitat requirements of target populations of native fish. A critical area habitat analysis, R2Cross, will be used to develop minimum summertime flow recommendations for each tributary. Timely streamflow and water quality measurements will be compared to recommended minimum streamflows and target fish population tolerances and presented as the "Habitat Health" reading for each tributary. To emphasize their connection to habitat health, streamflow and water quality indices will also be developed and presented. The weekly indices will be posted on signboards in the project towns and/or in local newspapers. The project web page will provide timely dissemination of geospatially-linked data, background information, and information on other projects in the watershed. A series of workshops will be developed to present and promote water conservation for citizens and local decision-makers.

Expected Results:

To meet the challenges facing the river changes in current thinking about water resources and water management practices and cooperation across town and regional boundaries will be needed. The partnerships and information developed in this project will build capacity to meet these challenges. The data collected in this project will also serve to further other research projects in the watershed and contribute to the overall understanding of water budgets in the basin.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 8 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Northeast, EPA Region I, critical area analysis, R2 Cross Method, target fish population, hydrology, biology, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, ECOSYSTEMS, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, RESEARCH, Ground Water, Water & Watershed, State, Monitoring/Modeling, Monitoring, Civil/Environmental Engineering, Wet Weather Flows, Terrestrial Ecosystems, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Urban and Regional Planning, Watersheds, aquatic ecosystem, EMPACT, remote sensing, hydrologic dynamics, Assabet River, nutrient transport, wetlands, community-based approach, streams, nutrients, downstream effects, runoff, sediment transport, stream ecosystems, Massachusetts (MA), community water quality information system, stormwater, community outreach, community tracking, nutrient monitoring , water quality, Massachusetts, community partnerships, aquatic ecosystems, ecological models, nutrient transport model, stormwater runoff, ecology assessment models, water management options, watershed assessment, land management, stream ecosystem, storm water, Storm Water Management Model, land use

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2002 Progress Report
  • 2003 Progress Report
  • Final Report