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Subbasins - Monoosnoc Brook
Geographic & Ecosystem Characteristics | Land Ownership & Land Use Patterns
Major Water Resource Issues | Recreation & Priority Habitat Areas
Resource Protection Goals & Recommended Actions

Land Area: 11.4 square miles
Primary Municipalities: Leominster
Permanently Protected Land Area: 1799 acres or 24%
Limited Protection Land Area (Chap. 61, etc.): 372 acres
River length: 6.1 miles

% Imperviousness: approximately 13%
# of MA NHESP* Priority Areas: 0
# of NPDES* permits: 1 Minor
Most Threatened Waterbodies: Monoosnoc Brook; Pierce and Rockwell Ponds
Reservoirs: Distributing, Haynes, Morse and Notown
Location within the Nashua River Watershed Water Resources Habitat Analysis
Open Space Water Resources Natural Heritage
Limited Protection Water Resources Recreation

Geographic Overview and Ecosystem Characteristics: This subbasin1 is primarily within the City of Leominster in addition to a portion in the City of Fitchburg. Located in the "fuzzy" zone between the Southern New England Coastal Plains and the Upper Worcester Plateau ecoregions2 of central Massachusetts, this area drains easterly into the North Nashua River downstream of the West Fitchburg Wastewater Treatment Facility and just upstream of the USGS gauging station. Streamflow, as in most of New England, has significant seasonal changes3. The western boundary of this subbasin is the Palmer and Ball Hills ridgeline. An even more prominent ridgeline runs through the heart of this subbasin: the North and South Monoosnoc Hills. Route 2 passes through this subbasin as does a short stretch of Route 12.

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Land Ownership and Land Use4 Patterns: The land-use pattern is 71% forest (hardwood mixed with softwood) or wetland. Low, medium, and high-density residential settlement as well as suburban subdivisions and strip development throughout the subbasin account for a total of 14% residential. 5% of the total area is agricultural or open land. Commercial operations, industry and other developed land uses are numerous.
As for permanently protected open space, a portion of this subbasin is owned by the City of Fitchburg as Coggshell Park. The City of Leominster owns much land for watershed protection and other municipal purposes. The area to the southwest of Notown Reservoir is Department of Environmental Management's Leominster State Forest.

A high percentage (13.2%) of total impervious surfaces5 — namely, paved areas such as streets, driveways, and parking lots — for this subbasin indicates that issues of compromised stormwater and other non-point sources of contaminants (for example: pesticides, fertilizers, oils, asphalt, pet wastes, salt, sediment, human litter and other debris) are a pressing concern.

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Major Water Resource Issues: There is a medium-yield aquifer underlying the northern divide of this subbasin as well as a smaller one underlying Lake Samoset. Major waterbodies in this subbasin include: Distributing, Haynes, Morse and Notown Reservoirs; Mirror Lake; and Pierce and Rockwell Ponds. Pierce Pond is on the 303(b)* list of impaired waterbodies as it contains noxious plants. Rockwell Pond is considered eutrophic.

Monoosnoc Brook proper is classified as a Class B waterbody. In this subbasin there are no wastewater treatment facilities, one water withdrawal permitee — B.F. Goodrich Company is permitted to withdraw 0.12 MGD of groundwater — and one NPDES permitee: again Goodrich, a minor industrial discharger of non-contact cooling water to Monoosnuc Brook. In 1997 and 1998 the NRWA conducted water quality monitoring at two stations on Monoosnuc Brook. No major water quality problems were identified.

Based on recent findings in an Hydrologic Analysis (inflow/outflow) by Camp, Dresser, Mckee, under contract with EOEA for the Massachusetts Watershed Initiative Nashua Team, the Monoosnoc sub-basin is currently under a medium level of hydrological stress due to more water being exported from the basin (via water supply withdrawals and sewers) than comes into the basin via precipitation and other means. But it is bordering on a high level of stress. Looking ahead to the year 2020, the Monoosnoc is placed under a high level of stress.

This means that the net 7Q10 outflow from the sub-basin equals or exceeds the estimated natural 7Q10. 7Q10 is the lowest consecutive 7 day streamflow that is likely to occur in a ten year period in a particular river segment under current conditions. And in the 2020 projection for a high stress level, the net average August outflow from the sub-basin equals or exceeds the estimated natural August average flow.

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Recreation and Priority Habitat Areas: Coggshall Park is a major recreational destination in this subbasin. Nearly 5 miles of the long-distance Mid-state Trail passes through this subbasin; although it may be noted that there are no trail easements thereon. The trail system through the Monoosnoc Hills is particularly good. Monoosnoc Greenway Project has established a walkway along the brook.

There are three state-designated Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Project (MA NHESP) Rare Wetlands Priority Habitat areas: 1) Haynes Reservoir; 2) an area that is between Notown Reservoir and Goodfellow Pond; and 3) just to the southwest of Pierce Pond. The one core area identified in the Nashua River Habitat Assessment Report (MAS, 2000), which encompasses fully half of this subbasin, is the Notown Reservoir area. The Ball-Palmer and Monoosnoc Hills ridgelines provide upland connections to the south and thus should be considered a priority area for land conservation. Of primary importance are privately-owned undeveloped parcels abutting the southwest side of Notown Reservoir.

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Resource Protection Goals and Recommended Actions

GOAL: Protect wildlife habitat and migration corridors in the subbasin.

  • Land protection efforts to focus on eastern shoreline of Notown Reservoir and Haynes Reservoir.
  • Monitor potential development of the Palmer Hill area.
  • Sponsor local events to raise public understanding about native wildlife and the impacts of development patterns on ecosystem and habitat integrity.
  • Work with local conservation commissions to gain their backing of natural resource and habitat inventories.

GOAL: Protect high-priority open space, vistas, and community character in the subbasin.

  • Further protect Monoosnoc Hills
  • Encourage the use of MA Executive Order 418* funding for Open Space and Resource Protection Plans for each Massachusetts community in this subbasin.
  • Conduct public education sessions to promote local passage of Community Preservation Act*.
  • Work toward ideal of at least 25-50% protected open space in each municipality by supporting the City of Leominster's stated intention of protecting further watershed properties. Encourage more collaborative open space conservation projects between the City, the State, The Trustees of Reservations, the Leominster Land Trust, and the public (i.e.: Sholan Farm).
  • Work with municipal officials to develop subdivision standards that require proponents to devote at least 50% of land (not including already undevelopable wet or steep land) for open space conservation and encourage mixed-use development and cluster zoning by-right bylaws.

GOAL: Increase recreational opportunities throughout the subbasin.

  • Improve canoeing, fishing, and swimming opportunities by removing weeds from water bodies.
  • Educate the public and municipal departments (especially Public Works Depts) on efforts relating to invasive species identification and removal.
  • Enhance passive use of watershed lands (walking, trails, e.g.)

GOAL: Improve water quality in the subbasin.

  • Assist Fitchburg and Leominster with its Clean Water Act-mandated MS-4 Phase II Stormwater requirements*. These municipalities will be required to obtain permits to reduce impacts to the receiving streams through the development of Best Management Practices (BMPs)*, elimination of cross-connections and significant public education. CSO controls and the development of a long-range control plan will be required.
  • Survey invasive plant infestation and conduct spot treatment to control spread on Pierce Pond.
  • Monoosnoc Brook from Simonds Pond to its outfall needs more sampling given BF Goodrich discharge.
  • Identify Water Management Act (WMA)* withdrawals. Evaluate compliance with registration and/or permit limits. Determine potential impacts of withdrawals on streamflow/habitat and work toward restoring natural flow regimes where feasible.
  • Inventory, monitor and improve stormwater drainage structures.
  • Identify underground storage tanks (USTs) and work to have them removed.

GOAL: Reduce negative effects of development in this subbasin.

  • Help local volunteer board members responsible for development and land-use rulemaking and enforcement get technical assistance and information regarding techniques to control/guide land use and development balanced with adequate resource protection (e.g., Citizens Planner Training Collaborative6 workshop offerings).
  • Increase or establish staff hours of municipal conservation agents to more effectively monitor construction sites runoff and assist with the preparation of bylaws such as erosion-sedimentation controls.

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* See glossary.

1 For this Plan, subbasins were delineated and analyzed using USGS defined boundaries which sometimes are truncated at the gaging station and may not appear to be consistent with topographically determined drainage areas.

2 Ecoregions are areas with generally similar climate, bedrock geology, soils, vegetation, and shape of the land. The Worcester Plateau (or Monadnock Upland) has granite and schist bedrock and is cooler than the more moderate Southern New England Coastal Plains and Hills ecoregion, which has glacial till and outwash deposits for bedrock. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts considers this physiographic region the "Central Upland" region.

3 Corresponding to seasonal stream flow changes are notable spikes in bacteria levels during summer and fall. Seasonal cycles of high bacteria concentrations may be attributed to decreased dilution during summer months, when tributary flows are lowest. (Wachusett Reservoir Watershed Protection Plan Update 1998, pp. 2-29)

4 "Land Use" description at

5 According to the Center for Watershed Protection's Rapid Watershed Assessment Handbook protocol, an area with less than 10% (8 - 12%) impervious surfaces is considered "partially threatened"; less than 8% is considered "sensitive" or what one would say is a relatively pristine environment;" 12 - 20% is considered "threatened"; and more than 20% is considered "non-supporting" or urbanized. The figures cited in the narrative are based on NRW Estimated Impervious Cover by Sub-basin based on '85/'92 Land Use: MDC '98 Methods Estimate by Bruce Bayne and Jo Anne Carr of the EOEA Nashua River Watershed Team.

6 Citizens Planner Training Collaborative (CPTC)

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