Protecting Harvard's Waterways:
NRWA to Expand Water Monitoring in Harvard

By: Wynne Treanor-Kvenvold, NRWA Communications Manager

Nashua River as it passes through Harvard and the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge.  Photo credit: Kristopher KvenvoldDid you know that the 10-mile stretch of the Nashua River which runs through Harvard, including the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge (Oxbow NWR), is state-listed as impaired by E.coli bacteria? Are you aware that at least one invasive water chestnut plant was removed from that same stretch of river last year? The Nashua River Watershed Association (NRWA) will be expanding its efforts to address these issues beginning this summer as part of its project, “Protecting Our Waterways: Aquatic Invasive Surveys and Bacterial Testing in Harvard and the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge,” with funding from the Foundation for MetroWest.

The NRWA currently monitors water quality and stream conditions at one location on Bowers Brook, with sampling once per month over seven months each season. As part of this project, monitoring will be expanded with two to three additional sites in Harvard and at the Oxbow NWR, and samples will be collected weekly during the months of July and August. The results will be used to create a “River Report Card” that will be posted on NRWA’s website, shared with local papers, town and state officials, and the Oxbow NWR. The information will also be used to post alerts to notify the public when water conditions do not meet swimming or boating standards.

Additionally, the NRWA will undertake an aquatic invasive survey of river reaches in Harvard and the Oxbow NWR, hand pulling any water chestnut plants that are located. Early hand removal of individual plants is vital to prevent the aggressive spread of this plant that is responsible for the current 90-acre infestation of the Nashua River in the Pepperell and Groton area. Local residents may be aware of similar efforts undertaken on Bare Hill Pond. NRWA will work cooperatively with the Friends of the Oxbow, and information garnered from the survey will be shared with the Oxbow NWR and the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex, strengthening capacity to undertake a regional approach to water chestnuts.

As part of this project, the NRWA will be looking for volunteers in Harvard to assist with stream monitoring and invasive surveying and removal. Educational presentations will also be made to the public, the first being “Protecting Harvard’s Waterways” on March 26th at 7:00 p.m. in Volunteers Hall at the Harvard Public Library. The public is invited to attend this free presentation to learn more about this project and opportunities for volunteer participation.

You may also consider making an impact on our local environment by contributing to the MetroWest Fund for the Environment.

Photo: Nashua River as it passes through Harvard and the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge.  
Photo credit: Kristopher Kvenvold