Faculty Advisor

Paul Mathisen

Faculty Advisor

Jeanine Plummer


The wide use and accessibility of surface waters leads to multiple sources of contamination. The two main forms of pollution are from point and nonpoint sources. Point sources are regulated by the federal government; however, nonpoint sources are more difficult to regulate since there is no defined origin. Due to this problem, surface water monitoring is performed by state agencies which can include the testing of several different water quality indicators chosen by the state. This thesis examines several water quality indicators from two watershed subbasins with different land uses. The types of contamination and sources were evaluated from the data, which was analyzed based on sampling site, season, and two statistical tests. The water quality indicators that were examined in this study included physical, chemical, and microbiological indicators. The two subbasins that were monitored were located in the Wachusett reservoir watershed in central Massachusetts. One subbasin, Malagasco Brook, was located south of the reservoir. Six sampling sites were chosen in proximity to a swampy area, a nursery, and condominium housing complex. The second subbasin, Beaman Pond, was located to the northwestern side of the reservoir and was monitored at three sites. These sites were located in a residential area in addition to a special use two acre farm. Analyses were performed by site and by season to find trends in the data. Statistical correlation and ANOVA analyses were performed in order to better understand the relationships of the water quality indicators. From these analyses, it was determined that organic carbon and human sources of contamination were significant in the Malagasco Brook subbasin. Organics originated in the headwaters and nursery area, and the residential area was a possible source of microorganisms. The Beaman Pond subbasin was found to be affected by both human and animal sources of contamination. Downstream of the farm, animal contamination was found and supported by measurement of microbial source tracking indicators. The other two sites were affected by human sources, a result of septic systems. Strong correlations were found between several water quality parameters, including temperature and dissolved oxygen, turbidity and particle counts, and fecal coliforms and enterococcus. Based on data usefulness and ease of measurement, it is recommended that temperature, DO, conductivity, pH, dissolved organic carbon, turbidity or particle counts, and fecal coliforms be included in a routine watershed monitoring program.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Civil & Environmental Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





water quality, fecal coliforms, land use, Water quality biological assessment, Water, Pollution$zMassachusetts, Land use, Environmental aspects