Science & Monitoring

IRWA’s volunteer science and monitoring programs include the following:


Volunteers help make a difference through water quality testing. Photo: F. Doyle

The RiverWatch Program is our volunteer water quality monitoring program to assess the health of the Ipswich River. Volunteers collect data monthly from March-December on weather conditons, rain in the last 48 hours, water color, odor and clarity, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, velocity, depth and conductivity. Measurements are taken at 31 sites throughout the watershed: 9 sites are on major tributaries and 21 sites are on the mainstem of the Ipswich River.



Herring Count

Counting fish at the Ipswich fish ladder. Photo: C. Ingelfinger.

The Herring Count is conducted each Spring at the Ipswich Dam in downtown Ipswich. Volunteers perform 10 minute counts throughout the day and season at the top of the fish ladder. the data are used to document the conditions under which river herring or alewife and also blueback herring mingrate into the Ipswich River to spawn.






Sampling a stream for macroinvertebrates. Photo: D. Canon.

The macroinvertebrate monitoring program is an annual sampling program to measure the biological health of the Ipswich River. Benthic macroinvertebrate (bugs living on the river bottom) abbundance are good indicator of water quality.




RIFLS Streamflow Monitoring

IRWA now has two sites that are part of the RIFLS (River Instream Flow Stewards) monitoring program run by the Mass. Division of Ecological Restoration. Volunteers help by reading staff gauges located on Martins Brook in North Reading and on the Ipswich River at Haverhill St. also in North Reading. If you live in the North Reading area, this is a great way to volunteer for the river! The time commitment is minimal and the results are very useful. to learn more, contact the Programs Coordinator Ryan O’Donnell at rodonnell@ipswichriver.



How to volunteer

We are always looking for volunteers for our monitoring programs. Volunteers are needed to fill sites for the RiverWatch program or serve as back-ups. Fish counters are always needed to to perform counts at the fish ladder in Ipswich and we may need volunteers to help collect, sort and identify macroinvertebrate samples. For more information on how to get involved, check out our volunteering page.