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One of the major industries responsible for degradation of water quality has been paper mills. Before the late 1970s, paper mills in the Massachusetts segment of the river discharged effluent with high concentrations of BOD5 and suspended solids into the river (Center for Environment and Man, 1975). Downstream of the paper mills in Holyoke, Massachusetts, it was reported that the river flowed different colors depending on the dye lot used at the paper mill that day.

In 1963, it was reported that in the stretch of river from central Massachusetts to south of Hartford, Connecticut, 9 of the 22 jurisdictions responsible for discharge of sewage provided no wastewater treatment. Twelve of the 22 provided only primary treatment, and 1 provided secondary treatment (Kittrell, 1963). Large discharges of municipal and industrial wastes caused a steady depletion of DO downstream of the Holyoke Dam in Massachusetts. Minimum DO levels reached nearly zero during a low-flow survey in 1966, and DO levels of less than 2 mg/L were recorded in 1971. Connecticut River data collected in the summer of 1971 documented other forms of pollution, with a minimum density of coliform bacteria of 75,000 MPN/100 mL and a maximum of over 1 million MPN/100 mL (Center for Environment and Man, 1975).

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