Massachusetts Water Resources Research Center at UMass Amherst

Acid Rain Monitoring Project

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Phases I through III of the ARM Project ran from 1983 to 1993 for the purpose of determining the sensitivity of Massachusetts lakes and streams to acid rain and evaluating trends in acidification. The results of that effort involving thousands of volunteers are available in several publications and the complete database. The final report is available as a printed report, downloadable PDF files or on CD-ROM. The latter also includes the complete data sets.

The latest phase of the Acid Rain Monitoring Project was launched April 1, 2001.

Update

Due to budget cuts in 2011, sampling twice a year was no longer feasable. We are now sampling once a year, in April. In 2011, we changed the sampling site list to include ponds we had monitored in 2001-2003. Results for pH and ANC are posted here. More detailed results that include ions and color and historical data can be found in our searchable database. Last summer (2010), we looked very closely at all of the data our volunteers have collected and analyzed since 1983 and our findings were compiled into our 2010 Annual Report. The 2011 Annual Report updates those results and has been posted.

Freshwaters getting more alkaline? Gene Likens thinks so: http://www.npr.org/2013/09/13/221725348/rivers-on-rolaids-how-acid-rain-.... In Massachusetts, we have found some improvement in alkalinity, but are not alarmed about it yet!

Read a recent National Science Foundation: Acid Rain: Scourge of the Past or Trend of the Present?

Introduction

The Acid Rain Monitoring Project began at the University of Massachusetts Water Resources Research Center in 1983. The project's mission was initially to develop a comprehensive picture of the sensitivity of Massachusetts surface waters to acid deposition, and later evolved to determine long-term trends in this sensitivity.

In Phase I (1983-1984), citizen volunteers sampled 1000 streams and lakes monthly in the state and analyzed them for pH and alkalinity. Phase II (1985) studied 2500 lakes and streams twice a year (April and October) and expanded analysis to major cations and anions. Phase III covered 1986-1993, when a subsample of 860 lakes and streams were sampled 4 times a year (January, April, July and October).

After an eight-year hiatus, the project resumed in April 2001 (Phase IV), when samples were collected three times a year (April, July and October) at about 150 lakes and ponds (and a few streams) and run for the analysis of pH, alkalinity, total phosphorus, and major ions for two years. In the fall of 2003 we switched emphasis to streams and collecting in October and April but continued monitoring 26 sites on the long-term list of endangered water bodies (click here to see a Word document of this list, or here for a PDF document of the same list). In April 2011 we switched half our sites back to ponds in order to document trends in acid rain sensitivity in both streams and ponds.

Background Information on Acid Rain

Please read the booklet Acid Rain in Massachusetts 1988: the Massachusetts Acid Rain Research Program in Action pdf icon

Searchable Database
Search our database for full water chemistry records beginning with the start of the Project in March 1983. Samples were collected monthly from 1983 to 1984, semiannually from 1985 and 1986, and quarterly from 1986 to 1993. Current samples are collected semiannually. More than 40,000 records from nearly 5,600 lakes and streams are contained in the database.