Water Quality

Acton’s waters contain many materials in them other than pure H2O. Some of these are natural and others are introduced through human processes. This page indexes information about the quality of the groundwater, surface waters, and drinking water of Acton.

Pollution sources
Specific Pollutants or Contaminants
  • 1,4 -Dioxane: a probable human carcinogen entering Acton’s groundwater from the W.R. Grace and NMI Superfund sites
  • Nutrients: nitrogen and phosphorous enter Acton’s surface waters from sewage discharge and fertilizer runoff, and can cause algae blooms and eutrophication
  • Bacteria: harmful bacteria from human or animal waste can cause illness in swimmers or “water-drinkers”
Water quality testing in Acton
  • AWD’s Water Quality Testing Program: The water district tests the drinking water for coliform bacteria, copper, fluoride, lead, MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether), VOCs (volatile organic compounds), sodium, “hardness” (degree of mineral content), discoloration, manganese, and 1,4-Dioxane. These data are published annually, in the summer edition of Water Words.
  • OARS (Organization for the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers) tests the quality of surface water in rivers and tributaries throughout the SuAsCo watershed for dissolved oxygen, phosphorus, nitrogen, suspended solids, pH, and water temperature. OARS has two sites in Acton: the Acton Canoe launch and Nashoba Brook. These data are published in annual reports.
  • Water at the NARA pond swimming beach is tested weekly for contamination by E. coli bacteria.
Regulations concerning water quality and pollution