Agawam River Study
St. Margaret’s Regional Middle School, Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts
The Agawam River is in the Buzzards Bay Watershed.The Buzzards Bay Watershed includes lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and ground water which drain into Buzzards Bay. The Agawam River begins at Halfway Pond in Plymouth and flows downstream into the Wareham River estuary into Buzzards Bay.The Agawam River is a notable contributor of freshwater and nutrients to the Wareham River estuary. The Agawam River is notable also, because it receives discharges from the Wareham Water Pollution Control Facility. Land use surrounding the Agawam River includes less residential land than parts of the Wareham River, although there are several cottage establishments at ponds of the Agawam River. New housing developments are currently being built that may impact the Agawam River. Currently, there are many cranberry bogs and roads that follow the same path as the Agawam River. There are schools, businesses, and the Water Pollution Control Facility. Historically, the river welcomed along its banks, grist mills, nail mills, cotton and fulling mills, farmland, some settlements and many people who fished its abundant waters.
Our study included two sites; upstream-the off Glen Charlie site, and downstream-the Minot Avenue site. In developing our study question, we wondered if the changes in seasons affected water quality and if there was an impact on the herring running upstream to Halfway Pond in the spring to spawn. We thought about leaves falling from the trees in the fall, road salt from the winter, melting ice in the spring, and fertilizer run-off. We wondered if we would find detrimental impacts from the river to the aquatic, animal and bird habitats at the river. We also discussed several contributing considerations in our study, such as; our study sites were upstream of the Water Pollution Control Facility, the effects of the tide, and brackish water.
We intended to study Nitrogen, Phosphorus, dissolved oxygen, river velocity and macroinvertebrates. Inability, at the time, to test salt water resulted in Nitrogen as being below detection level. We found higher levels of Phosphorus in the Minot Avenue site and in the Glen Charlie site in the Fall, but more in the Minot Avenue. Our early Spring samples had lower levels of Phosphorus than our late Spring samples. Our discussion about these findings is that we believe Phosphorus levels were higher in the Fall because of the flooding of cranberry bogs that is done in the Fall after harvesting. The higher Phosphorus findings in the late Spring could be possible fertilizer run-off.
In studying river velocity, we were able to calculate discharge per day and Phosphorus load. The following is discharge per day, which is not in our Presentation:
November: 2,812,320 cf/24 hours
March: 2,416,608 cf/24 hours
Off Glen Charlie
November: 971,136 cf/24 hours
March: 1,219,795 cf/24 hours
It is possible that flow was more abundant at Off Glen Charlie in March because the water fall upstream was opened; in November, it was closed. Our goal is to continue testing the river and do Nitrogen and coliform sampling. Our River coloring book and brochure will be in the Bourne and Wareham Libraries this summer.
St. Margaret’s Regional Middle School, Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts (2002). Agawam River Study. In Watershed Access Lab Projects. Project 126.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/wal_projects/126
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