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January 2013
River News
WRWA's e-newsletter to keep you informed.

Happy New Year
We want to take a moment to thank all our supporters and wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year! You make our work possible. Thank you! Your support will allow us to continue our work in 2013 and beyond.

We surpassed our Annual Fund Drive goal when more than 291 of you contributed about $135,000! This is exciting news for us coming out of a rebuilding process because it shows that you have confidence in what we are doing to protect and restore the Westport River and its watershed. We will be having a drawing soon for the color, hand printed, wood block print of the shellfisherman. All the people that contributed to our Annual Fund Drive will be entered in the drawing.
Scholarship Funds for Local Students
The Westport River Watershed Alliance Summer Programs is pleased to offer two scholarship opportunities for graduating seniors in the Westport River watershed: Fall River, Dartmouth, Freetown, Westport, Little Compton, and Tiverton. 
One award, a $500 scholarship, was made possible by the generosity of the late Margot C. Boote who was active in education and the environment. The second award, $500, was initiated by Bill Heath in memory of his parents Ruth and Bill Heath.
The merit award applications are available on the WRWA website HERE or by calling the WRWA office at 508-636-3016.  Guidance departments in local high schools have applications on file. All applications are due in the office no later than April 1, 2013. The Alliance has a proud record of environmental stewardship and has expressed over the years its concern to carry on this tradition. The merit awards offer an opportunity to honor students who have demonstrated their interest in protecting the watershed environment.
Help for Broken Septic Systems

The Town of Westport recently announced the kickoff of the Community Septic Management Program. The program provides homeowners with 2 percent financing with terms between 5 to 20 years to replace or repair their septic systems. The money is borrowed by the Town from the State Revolving Loan fund at zero interest. Several families have applied all ready.

Some of our members may remember that WRWA helped advocate for acceptance of the Community Septic Management Program (CSMP) at the 2012 Spring Town meeting. We did so because we knew it would make it more affordable for people to update their septic systems to Title 5 requirements. Composting toilets and denitrifying septic systems, which are better for removing nitrogen that causes problems with our salt water estuaries, also qualify for financing through the program.

The Board of Health (BOH) will evaluate projects to determine eligibility. The BOH must fail the existing system before it can loan money to the homeowner. Priority will be given to septic systems that are in the water table, systems there are located on small lots and systems that are located near environmentally sensitive areas.

Family income will be considered but all applicant information will be confidential. Applications can be found on the Town's website or you can go to the BOH office to pick them up. We will be able to print them out at our office.

Fish Counting Volunteers Needed
The Westport Fish Commissioners need volunteers to help in observing the herring runs in Westport in March and April. They would like to make observations at CockEast Pond, Sam Tripp Brook, Adamsville Pond, and Forge Pond.
Please email Peter Kastner, Westport Fish Commissioner, (click here for email) to express your interest in volunteering.
WRWA Appeals Conservation Commission's Decision
On Friday, December 28, 2012, the Westport River Watershed Alliance (WRWA) requested that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issue a Superseding Order of Resource Area Delineation based on the wetland boundaries accepted by the Westport Conservation Commissions in response to an Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation at the Prestige Auto Mart property at 1058 State Road, Westport, MA (DEP File # 80-2029).  

WRWA is appealing the Westport Conservation Commission approved Order of Resource Area Delineation.  WRWA believes the order did not adequately address filled wetlands on the property.  Fill has been placed on the property in the past, and the location of filled wetlands has a bearing on proposed activities on the site and the application of state wetland laws and regulations.

Matt Patrick, the WRWA's Executive Director, said, "The Prestige Auto project sets a bad precedent for this area which recharges Bread and Cheese Brook, a major tributary to the East Branch of the Westport River.  The Mass Estuaries Report attributes 33% of the East Branch's total nitrogen to sub watershed 3.  Eventually, the tax payer is going to get a bill for cleaning up the River so we don't want the nitrogen pollution to get any worse than it is already.  Any development in this area will get a great deal of scrutiny from us."

Lisabeth White, WRWA's Director of Advocacy, in a letter to the town of Westport's Planning Board, Conservation Commission and Board of Health, added, "...there already exists numerous flooding and stormwater problems in that vicinity along Rt. 6 due to lack of adequate stormwater controls. Property on Bower Avenue in particular has been severely impacted by storm waters entering and flooding the property, including the house."
Nitrogen Sampling Continues
Algae blooms due to excess nutrient  levels in the East Branch of the River.

In January 2012 the Town of Westport received the results of the Massachusetts Estuaries Project (MEP) nutrient threshold analysis for the Westport River Estuary. The Town is in a position to begin assessing a variety of nutrient load reducing actions that can be taken in the Westport River watershed to improve nutrient related water quality in the estuarine receiving waters of the East Branch of the overall system. Based on the MEP results, the Bread and Cheese Brook / Upper Westport River has been identified as an area that generates significant nutrient load to the Westport River estuary. The sources of excess nitrogen are predominantly from land use choices and individual onsite septic systems.


While the MEP Report for the Westport River indicates the main sources of nitrogen pollution and areas in which it is concentrated, there is a need to achieve a higher level of precision regarding these sources before attempting to prescribe any solutions. In September, 2012, with financial support from the Town of Westport Community Preservation Committee (CPC), an additional study of the Bread and Cheese Brook / Upper Westport River began. A one-year contract and scope of work for a two-year project was approved by the Town for intensive nutrient related water sampling and flow analysis for the most troubled areas to achieve a greater level of certainty as to precisely where those sources are located and If they are specific to wastewater or agriculture. The results will make it possible to better target the remedial actions. This project is a collaboration between the Town of Westport and the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth (UMD) where the WRWA will provide coordination as necessary and water quality sampling, and SMAST-CSP will provide technical guidance, stream gauging support, water sample laboratory analysis and data interpretation.


WRWA to Sponsor Wilderness First Aid Class

Wilderness First Aid Course

March 2 & 3, 2013 


Cost: $150

Location: Bristol County Agricultural High School


The Westport River Watershed Alliance and Bristol County Agricultural High School are hosting a Wilderness First Aid Course this winter. The course is a must for anyone traveling in the wilderness, from the outdoor enthusiast to the trip leader. This wilderness emergency medical course will be coordinated in partnership with SOLO Wilderness Medicine, leaders in the field of rescue and emergency medicine both in the US and abroad. Participants completing the course will receive a certification in Wilderness First Aid. Register online here or call the office to register with a credit card over the phone, 508-636-3016.

Thanks to Our Supporters
The Westport River Watershed Alliance is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC). MCC's mission is to promote excellence, education, access and diversity in the arts, humanities and interpretive sciences in order to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and to contribute to the economic vitality of our communities. The not-for-profit cultural industry has a multi- billion dollar economic impact in the state and supports every community.
Come Visit Us
1151 Main Road, Westport, MA 508.636.3016