Water Quality Monitoring

Clean water is fundamental to a green harbor.  We are monitoring water quality at multiple sites throughout the Boston Harbor to track the harbor’s health.  We hope to see improvements in water quality over the long term both from the placement of the outfall pipe for Boston sewage, and from the more recent designation of the harbor as a No Discharge Area.  See the pump-out boat pages to learn more about how we are helping commercial boaters keep pollution from the harbor.

Nicole Henderson (center) sampling water with her Niskin bottle.

Nicole Henderson, a PhD student in the Biology department, is monitoring water quality this summer in Dorchester Bay, off the coasts of Thompson and Spectacle Islands.  She and her team sample water from the surface and from a depth of five meters (about 15 feet), testing such things as water temperature, dissolved oxygen, and total suspended solids.  Water quality is important, says Nicole, because it influences the productivity of phytoplankton, the microscopic plant-like organisms that are the basis for much of the marine food web. Phytoplankton production is often limited by key macronutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous, so Nicole also plans to measure these nutrients in her water samples in the future.