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Water Quality Data for 2004

The data below were collected at one site sites on the Woonasquatucket River under the URI Watershed Watch Program:

  1. Donigian Park, Providence

For more details about our monitoring program, the parameters we monitor, and links to more data, see the overview page for our water quality monitoring program. Data for other years are also available from this page as well as from the sidebar at right.

The water quality of many of the lakes and ponds in the watershed is also being monitored under the URI Watershed Watch program. The data for these sites are available on the Watershed Watch web site.


Bacteria: Samples for bacteria testing are collected once a month during the monitoring season and taken to the URI Watershed Watch lab for analysis. These results are generally available within about a week of the monitoring date.

In 2006 Watershed Watch began testing for the bacteria group enterococci, instead of fecal coliforms. This change was made because the US EPA identified enterococci as a better indicator of the risk of contacting gastrointestinal disorders as a result of coming into contact with the water than fecal coliforms. As a result of this finding, RI DEM and RI Department of Health are also switching to using enterococci as their standard for recreational contact (swimming). Prior to the to 2006 the bacteria groups tested for where e. coli or fecal coliforms.

The Rhode Island standard for freshwater used for recreation is 200 Fecal Coliform (count per 100 ml). The Federal standard for freshwater used for recreation is 126 E. Coli (count per 100 ml).For more information visit the URI Watershed Watch web site and, in particular, read this PDF document on bacterial monitoring

Fecal Coliform (count per 100 ml):

Site May June July August September October
Donigian Park 108 400 700 300 12400 25000

Dissolved oxygen is important to the health of animals that live in the river because they need air to breath too. If the dissolved oxygen drops below 3 mg/L aquatic animals cannot survive. Between 3 and 5 mg/L it is hard for organisms to function, and above 5 is good. Oxygen levels are generally higher in the spring when the water is cold, because cold water can hold more oxygen. For more information visit the URI Watershed Watch web site and, in particular, read this PDF document on dissolved oxygen.

To run the test, two samples are collected and two tests are run on each sample. The four results are averaged to get the final value. The test used is the modified Winkler titration test. The dates listed below are the Saturday of the weekend on which the data were supposed to be collected. In some cases the samples were collected a few days before or after the date listed. See the detailed results below for the exact dates on which samples were collected.

Dissolved Oxygen (mg/L):

Site 5/8 5/22 6/5 6/19 7/3 7/17 7/24 8/7 8/21 9/4 9/18 10/2 10/16
Donigian Park 8.7 7.6 8.5 6.6 6.1 7.2 4.6 6.6 6.2 6.8 6.6 8.1 8.6

Dissolved Oxygen (% Saturation):

Site 5/8 5/22 6/5 6/19 7/3 7/17 7/24 8/7 8/21 9/4 9/18 10/2 10/16
Donigian Park 90 84 88 74 71 82 56 73 75 76 74 87 85

Nutrients: Data on nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are determined from samples delivered to URI along with the bacteria samples. However, the nutrient samples are not processed by Watershed Watch until after the end of the monitoring season. The data are typically posted on the URI Watershed Watch website sometime during the winter.


Collection Notes:

Saturday May 8, 2004 :: 7:30AM

Donigian Park, Providence

Data Collected by: Bruce Hooke

Weather: clear, light wind Water Temperature: 17.0 C (62.6 F)
Rainfall in the past 48 hours*: none Dissolved Oxygen: 8.7 mg/L
Air Temperature: 10.0 C (50 F)

Notes: It's the first day of the 2004 monitoring season and it's a beautiful spring morning! The air is crisp and the birds are singing. A gentle breeze is blowing the mist from the dam waterfall up into the air where it catches the sunlight. Swallows are swooping through the mist repeatedly, presumably going after insects. Most of the trees have leafed out but the Mulberry and the Sycamore are just getting started.


Saturday May 22, 2004 :: 7:45AM

Donigian Park, Providence

Data Collected by: Bruce Hooke

Weather: heavy overcast, calm wind Water Temperature: 20.0 C (68 F)
Rainfall in the past 48 hours*: none Dissolved Oxygen: 7.6 mg/L
Air Temperature: 17.0 C (62.6 F)

Notes: A still, gray morning on the river. If the clouds got much lower they would be fog. As a result, the leaves on the trees along the river are vibrantly green.

This morning feels right on the cusp of spring turning into summer. A morning as humid as this in high summer would presage a sweltering, steamy day, but it's not hot enough for that; however, it's too warm for it to turn into truly raw, wet, early spring day. So, here we are, just as spring turns slowly into summer.


Monday June 7, 2004 :: 7:45AM

Donigian Park, Providence

Data Collected by: Bruce Hooke

Weather: heavy overcast, light wind Water Temperature: 17.0 C (62.6 F)
Rainfall in the past 48 hours*: 4mm (0.16") Dissolved Oxygen: 8.5 mg/L
Air Temperature: 13.0 C (55.4 F)

Notes: It's another cool, damp morning on the river, but every once in a long while a bright area in the sky at least hints at where the sun might be. Swallows are darting around over the river, looking rather like bats in their flight pattern, as they pick insects out of the air for their breakfast. The mulberries on the mulberry tree are still green, but they are swelling up and at least staring to take on the shape that they will have when they are white and ripe.


Tuesday June 22, 2004 :: 6:50AM

Donigian Park, Providence

Data Collected by: Bruce Hooke

Weather: clear, light wind Water Temperature: 21.0 C (69.8 F)
Rainfall in the past 48 hours*: none Dissolved Oxygen: 6.6 mg/L
Air Temperature: 18.0 C (64.4 F)

Notes: The solstice has past and it is definitely summer here on the river: the mulberries are ripe or close to ripe, the air is warm even at 7 AM, and a large white flower drifted by me, floating on the river, as I collected my samples.


Thursday July 8, 2004 :: 8:00AM

Donigian Park, Providence

Data Collected by: Bruce Hooke

Weather: heavy overcast, gentle wind Water Temperature: 23.0 C (73.4 F)
Rainfall in the past 48 hours*: none Dissolved Oxygen: 6.1 mg/L
Air Temperature: 22.0 C (71.6 F)

Notes: The river is low and moving very slowly this morning. I could call it a "lazy summer river" but I know that all it would take is a heavy rainstorm or two to turn it into a rushing torrent. Still, it has the feel of a summer river. The leaves on the trees also no longer look as bright as they did in the spring. Now they have a duller, dustier look to them. Of course, this could largely be a matter of perception, with the spring leaves looking so green because of the lack of green in the winter months just before spring, but I think it's more than that.


Thursday July 15, 2004 :: 7:30AM

Donigian Park, Providence

Data Collected by: Bruce Hooke

Weather: heavy overcast, light wind Water Temperature: 22.0 C (71.6 F)
Rainfall in the past 48 hours*: 11mm (0.43") Dissolved Oxygen: 7.2 mg/L
Air Temperature: 20.0 C (68 F)

Notes: As a result of the recent rain, the river is higher and muddier than it was a week ago and from the looks of the sky we could well get more rain today.

What appeared to be a family of Canada Geese -- two adults and three smaller ones -- was floating placidly on the river when I got to the monitoring site. When I appeared on the scene they slid down a side channel, but when I got into the river to collect my samples they appeared to decide that it would be wiser to make their way upstream and around the bend. However, once I was back up on the bank they came back downstream and found a shallow spot in the river to stand and preen.

As I was heading back to my car, a Great Blue Heron lifted off from his perch (a shopping cart in the middle of the river) and flew gracefully downstream.


Saturday July 24, 2004 :: 6:45AM

Donigian Park, Providence

Data Collected by: Bruce Hooke

Weather: heavy overcast, light wind Water Temperature: 25.0 C (77 F)
Rainfall in the past 48 hours*: none Dissolved Oxygen: 4.6 mg/L
Air Temperature: 25.0 C (77 F)

Notes: The river is as low as I have ever seen it, I suspect for unnatural reasons *, because it has NOT been hot and dry recently! There is absolutely no water coming over the dam; it's just coming through the old sluicegate. As a result, the sampling site is in a quiet backwater now rather than where it is supposed to be, in a the middle of the main current. So, to make sure my readings were not getting thrown off because of this I took a second set of readings at the entrance to the sluiceway channel, where there is current now. These readings returned a dissolved oxygen level of 4.9 mg/L, just a little higher than the readings at the usual location.

Rain started falling just as I got to the site, at first lightly, making beautiful patterns on the river, and then heavily. It looks like it's going to be a gray, damp morning.

* When I got home I checked the Centerdale river gage on line and saw that the river discharge level, which had been stable, abruptly dropped by 85% (in terms of discharge volume) on Monday and Tuesday of this week. This is a sign that the low water level is at least partly a result of people not nature, because nature does generally cause sudden drops in river flow. So, the reason for the drop is most likely the closure of an important dam somewhere on the river. However, we must keep in mind that it could be the earlier high levels that was not "natural" because it could have been from a dam being opened, and the low water level could be the "baseline" that the river returned to after the dam was closed.


Sunday August 8, 2004 :: 8:15AM

Donigian Park, Providence

Data Collected by: Bruce Hooke

Weather: clear, light wind Water Temperature: 20.0 C (68 F)
Rainfall in the past 48 hours*: none Dissolved Oxygen: 6.6 mg/L
Air Temperature: 19.0 C (66.2 F)

Notes: It's a beautiful morning on the river! The sky is a brilliant blue and the air is warm but not hot. The water is clear too (except for a slight oily sheen on the surface) and the sun is sparkling off the river. Small fish darted out of the way as I was wading out of the river after collecting my samples.


Saturday August 21, 2004 :: 7:30AM

Donigian Park, Providence

Data Collected by: Bruce Hooke

Weather: heavy overcast, light wind Water Temperature: 25.0 C (77 F)
Rainfall in the past 48 hours*: none Dissolved Oxygen: 6.2 mg/L
Air Temperature: 26.0 C (78.8 F)

Notes: The calm, smooth surface of the river is reflecting the trees along the banks as well as the low gray ceiling of clouds close overhead. Occasional puffs of wind set the leaves in motion and stir up faint ripples on the surface of the river. The water level is up somewhat as a result of the heavy rain earlier in the week and it looks like we are in for some more rain later today.


Sunday September 5, 2004 :: 8:00AM

Donigian Park, Providence

Data Collected by: Bruce Hooke

Weather: light overcast, gentle wind Water Temperature: 21.0 C (69.8 F)
Rainfall in the past 48 hours*: none Dissolved Oxygen: 6.8 mg/L
Air Temperature: 19.0 C (66.2 F)

Notes: Fall is definitely on the way. The air feels downright cool this morning! As I was wading into the river to collect my samples a green heron flew up and landed on a branch and then flew away up the river. Later, when I was done collecting the samples, a belted kingfisher appeared and sat on a branch above the dam and bobbed his tail for a while before flying away up the river too.


Saturday September 18, 2004 :: 6:30AM

Donigian Park, Providence

Data Collected by: Bruce Hooke

Weather: heavy overcast, moderate wind Water Temperature: 21.0 C (69.8 F)
Rainfall in the past 48 hours*: 6mm (0.24") Dissolved Oxygen: 6.6 mg/L
Air Temperature: 20.0 C (68 F)

Notes: A dramatic morning on the river: intervals of moderate rain are alternating with occasional interludes of fine, light drizzle, and long periods of torrential downpour. The wind is shifting between a light breeze and gusts that set all the trees in motion, flip over the leaves, and send loose leaves flying through the air. In my hour at the river the water level came up by over a foot on the Valley St. gauge, turning a quiet river into a muddy torrent. Amidst all of this I saw some beautiful orange flowers next to the river right be where I wade in to get my samples.


Saturday October 2, 2004 :: 8:15AM

Donigian Park, Providence

Data Collected by: Bruce Hooke

Weather: heavy overcast, calm wind Water Temperature: 19.0 C (66.2 F)
Rainfall in the past 48 hours*: none Dissolved Oxygen: 8.1 mg/L
Air Temperature: 15.0 C (59 F)

Notes: A foggy, peaceful morning on the river. There's not a breath of wind and the river and trees upstream look like they're in a misty, atmospheric landscape painting. There are hints of fall around but the view upstream is still as lush and dense as it was in the summer. The opposite bank of the river, on the other hand, has changed dramatically from past weeks, but not because of the change in seasons. All the plants and bushes growing under the trees have been removed, presumably to open up the view from the Rising Sun Mill project. It's amazing how much this changes the look of the area. Overhead, the sun just poked through a thin spot in the fog, but at its brightest it was just a white disk, only a bit brighter than the fog itself, and after a few seconds the fog rolled back in.


Saturday October 16, 2004 :: 7:45AM

Donigian Park, Providence

Data Collected by: Bruce Hooke

Weather: clear, light wind Water Temperature: 15.0 C (59 F)
Rainfall in the past 48 hours*: 30mm (1.18") Dissolved Oxygen: 8.6 mg/L
Air Temperature: 13.0 C (55.4 F)

Notes: It's a beautiful morning on which to end the monitoring season! The sun is shining brilliantly out of a deep blue sky and reflecting off the water as it goes over the edge of the dam. Sadly, the surface of the river is covered with oil spots, probably street runoff from last night's rain. I will be quite surprised if the water samples do not turn out to be very high in fecal coliform and e. coli. None-the-less it is an upliftingly beautiful fall morning: there are yellow leaves all over the ground and floating down the river, and a red tree is reflected in the river near the Valley Street bridge.


* Note: Rainfall amounts are recorded at a rain gauge in western Providence or at other rain gauges in the area. These rainfall amounts should be view as approximations.

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