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Earth Day Work Continues on the Merrimack River


In an ongoing effort to assist community and watershed groups working to protect urban rivers and ecosystems, EPA’s New England office is providing a second year of a water monitoring equipment loan to the Merrimack River Watershed Council (MRWC).

The successful Volunteer Water Monitoring Equipment Loan Program, in its third year, assists local volunteers to assess the water quality conditions of New England lakes, rivers and estuaries. Using data collected over several years, the volunteers provide valuable information on the state and condition of urban waterways, helping state and federal regulators to hone efforts to protect and restore environmental resources.

Using the EPA equipment, volunteers have been assessing water quality conditions of the Merrimack River from the New Hampshire border to the Merrimack River estuary in Newburyport. The MRWC announced the results of their first year of monitoring today. The equipment loan program has helped raise awareness of failing septic systems, illicit discharges of sanitary sewerage, and non-point source runoff.

This year EPA intends to provide equipment to groups working in urban areas of New England to generate well-documented physical, chemical and biological data for use in assessing conditions of the region’s waters. The types of equipment available for loan include water quality meters and sampling equipment. Applications are due to EPA by May 27. With this equipment loan program, EPA New England expects to support and enhance the work of existing monitoring groups and assist the start up of new groups who seek to monitor waters for which there are no current data.

The equipment loan program is a key aspect to a signature EPA goal: protecting health and environmental quality in New England. Improved water quality monitoring can have significant benefits in New England, as monitoring data helps guide efforts to improve the health of rivers, streams, lakes and other bodies of water.

Despite the need for robust data on water quality and ecological health, there are waters that states, tribes and EPA are not able to monitor at all or only on a very limited frequency. In New England, volunteer groups have played a valuable role in supplementing the available monitoring data.

“We know that protecting our environment is a job that we all share,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Volunteers, such as those with MRWC, are helping to protect our environment by doing water quality monitoring – and they are making a real difference. This is a great example of people working together to solve environmental issues.”

EPA also announced that it would assist the Merrimack River Watershed Council in 2008 by providing free microbiological analyses of water samples collected from the Merrimack River at EPA’s regional laboratory in North Chelmsford.

MRWC has developed a project called “Merrimack River Water Quality Monitoring, Analyzing, Protecting and Promoting” for the river. The Merrimack River impacts the drinking water of over 300,000 Massachusetts citizens.


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