Suffolk Downs Funds Mystic River Water Quality Monitoring and Improvement Program

Beginning in February 2013, the Mystic River Watershed Association will receive $495,000 over three years from Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC (Suffolk Downs), to support water quality monitoring and improvement efforts throughout the twenty-two community Mystic River Watershed. Both a monthly Baseline Monitoring Program and a Hot-Spot Monitoring Program will be funded under an agreement recently endorsed by both parties. Suffolk’s provision of funding toward this project was undertaken in connection with the settlement of an enforcement action, United States v. Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, LLC, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act.

“Improved water quality is an essential component of environmental restoration in the Mystic River Watershed and a critical first step toward a healthier local ecology. To accomplish this objective, the Mystic River Watershed Association serves as a consistent advocate for clean water,” stated EkOngKar Singh Khalsa, Executive Director of the Mystic River Watershed Association. “This new funding  provides assurance that critically important water quality monitoring will continue in the Mystic.”

Chip Tuttle, Chief Operating Officer of Suffolk Downs added, “Suffolk Downs is committed to programs and policies that will help the local environment now and as we look toward future development here. We are proud to partner with the Mystic River Watershed Association in this effort.” 

For forty years, MyRWA, a 501(c)3 organization, has relied upon generous support from concerned residents, businesses and foundations to accomplish its work. More recently, the water quality program has been supported by generous grants from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, the Caswell Family Foundation and from local businesses including Exxon/Mobil Pipeline Corporation, Distrigas of Massachusetts, Schnitzer Northeast, Exelon Generation and Attorney Robert Bonsignore.

The Mystic River Baseline Monitoring Program engages more than 50 trained volunteers to take monthly samples at 15 locations throughout the watershed. Active since 2000, the Baseline Program provides critically important data with regard to the sources, type and volume of existing impairments to the river’s natural environment and water quality. Separately, the Hot-Spot Monitoring Program conducts intensive sub-watershed studies – water quality samples that may be collected along the entire length of a tributary, or from suspicious stormwater outfall pipes that discharge to the watershed's rivers and streams.  Samples taken are analyzed for bacteria, ammonia, dissolved oxygen, total suspended solids, and surfactants. 

The Baseline Monitoring Program and Hot-Spot Monitoring Program document water quality to inform municipal officials and regional planners and help effectively prioritize clean-up activities and infrastructure planning.  All data is available to the public here.