Environmental Quality Department
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
Management and Use of a Long-term Water Quality Monitoring Database for Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay
Delivered at 2003 Boston Harbor Islands Science Symposium.
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) maintains an extensive environmental database, which consists of long-term monitoring data for Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay, and effluent testing data for MWRA treatment plants and combined sewer overflow treatment facilities. While most of the monitoring data have been collected by MWRA and its consultants during the past decade, water quality data collected by state agencies and other organizations are included in the database. Major categories of monitoring data in the database are: water quality, effluent chemistry, fish and shellfish chemistry and pathology, sediment contaminants, plankton abundance, and benthic infauna. Ancillary information such as tidal data, weather data, and GIS spatial data are also included.
MWRA monitoring data are collected under stringent quality assurance and control following the Deming/Shewhart model for quality management. Data from other sources must be thoroughly documented. All data are stored in an Oracle relational database management system in which data integrity is maintained through automated database constraints. Additional checks are made upon data loading to identify possible study-specific errors. These checks are continually updated and corrections are made both to new data and retroactively.
The database has been used intensively for management and decision making internally, for compliance with MWRA’s discharge permit and court orders, and also serves as a data warehouse for the academic community interested in the ecology and physical characteristics of Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay.