Westport River Watershed Alliance
River News - June, 2013
WRWA's Mission:  
to restore, protect, celebrate and sustain the natural resources of the Westport River watershed

River Day - Saturday June 22

River Day is the Westport River Watershed Alliance's FREE family fun day to celebrate the River. River Day offers many activities and staged performances. You can even paddle up the river from Hix Bridge landing and enjoy all of the activities, especially the Live Raptor Show.
Where: Old County Road at Drift Road the Head of Westport Landing

Festivities at Landing: 10 am - 3 pm

9:00 Paddlers' registration Hix Bridge Landing

Paddlers take off for the Head Landing

10:00 River Day exhibits and activities open at the Head Landing

11:00 Live Birds of Prey Raptor Show on stage

Noon Poster awards for Westport Elementary School winners

12:30 Spindle Rock River Rats on-stage playing bluegrass tunes

1:30 - 3:00 The Basics The band is made up of musicians from Swansea, Somerset, Fall River and New Bedford. This very versatile group of six play rock and roll from the 60's, 70's and 80's.

On-going throughout the day: Fish t-shirt printing, Face painting, Small boat (<6")
building and racing, Stilt building, Salt art, Environmental exhibits, May-pole dancing, food, and fabulous fun. 

To register for the paddle, to learn more, or to volunteer visit:
From the Executive Director -
Matt Patrick


Handbook for Homeowners to Prepare for Coastal Hazards - A new publication, Massachusetts Homeowner's Handbook to Prepare for Coastal Hazards (click this link to download  http://seagrant.mit.edu/publications/MITSG_13-10.pdf  PDF, 14 MB), has recently been released to provide information to homeowners on how to stay safe and minimize damages during coastal storms. This handbook provides information on hurricanes and northeasters and practical measures and cost-effective steps that can be implemented to lower individual risk and increase the resilience of coastal communities. The handbook was developed collaboratively by CZM, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Barnstable County, and the Woods Hole and MIT Sea Grant programs.

River Testing Results Posted Weekly -  

Is the Water Clean Enough to Swim ?

Roberta Carvalho, WRWA Science Director  


Visit our website for weekly water testing results of the Westport River. 

Go to this link:


WRWA has been sampling the River to test for fecal coliform bacteria since 1991 to monitor for the presence of bacteria pollution. Bacteria do not generally damage the ecosystem, but can make people sick when they eat tainted seafood, or swim in contaminated water. They are also a marker to identify the possible presence of other pathogens that come from the same fecal sources. Bacteria in the River comes from human wastewater and domestic and wild animal waste. The majority of bacteria are conveyed to the River via stormwater, although ground water is significant, too, particularly during wet weather.


The laboratory tests are done by the City of New Bedford Health Department Lab. WRWA's collection and analysis of samples has been utilized by the town and state agencies to document bacterial contamination in the river. WRWA's data is not used to open and close shellfish areas, this sampling is done by the State Division of Marine Fisheries. Water quality testing results for local public beaches can be found on the state's website: http://mass.digitalhealthdepartment.com/public_21/maps.cfm?map=Buzzards%20Bay 


Pathogen pollution is transported to the river primarily by rainfall and resultant runoff. The amount, duration, intensity, and time span between rain events are factors that influence fecal coliform levels in the river. Looking back at the last ten years of monitoring, conditions are greatly improving. These improvements have allowed state shellfish regulators to change the segments for the opening of conditional closures shellfish beds. This increases the availability of shellfish harvest potential.


Flyer distributed by concerned citizens
Dartmouth Landfill Capping Proposal Threatens Our Watershed
Betsy White, WRWA Advocacy Director 


A recent proposal put forward to the MA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) by the owner of a Dartmouth landfill may potentially harm the Westport River and its environment. This proposal, developed by Boston Environmental Corporation, is to cap a private, 23-acre dump site on Old Fall River Road using low-level contaminated soils, such as coal ash, dredge materials, road sweepings, and catch basin cleanings. This site is unlined and currently contains material that has been dumped there for the past 40 or more years, including PCBs, construction debris, dredge material, and oils, among other things. Leachate containing cyanide, PCBs, arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium has been found to be coming from the site. This site has a long history of violations and noncompliance regarding landfill operations, including the most recent in 2009, when DEP issued an Administrative Order that essentially required the owner to remove all the material from the landfill. The owner has failed to comply, and has instead submitted this new capping proposal to DEP. Dartmouth and many of its residents are presently researching and organizing means to prevent this project from moving forward and many letters have been written to DEP by stakeholders, including WRWA, informing them of the many major concerns they have with this project proposal.


The 23-acre landfill footprint sits within a 94-acre parcel located in the northeastern part of the Westport River watershed. The site is bordered on three sides by wetlands, and is located above the Shingle Island River, which, along with the Copicut Reservoir, composes the upper headwaters of the East Branch of the Westport River. Nearby there are habitats of rare wildlife, rare species, and certified vernal pools. Additionally, the property is adjacent to an aquifer and wellhead protection area. The EPA has identified 5 Westport wells within a 4-mile radius that may be in danger of contamination: Westport Country Day School, St. George School, Well No. 1, Westport Plaza, and Alice A. Macomber Primary School.

The submitted plan, which is awaiting DEP approval, calls for over one million cubic yards of low-level contaminated soils to be dumped on the 23 acres, creating a 65-foot hill with a 5-acre plateau on top. This will require 65 truck loads per day, six days a week, over a three-year period. The roads into the site are narrow and are already heavily trafficked, and an estimated 25 school buses from New Bedford, Dartmouth, Voke, and Bristol Aggie use the proposed route; 16 of the buses have stops along the route.


This proposed capping project creates many concerns for the residents of the region, especially those in Dartmouth and Westport. It threatens drinking water, marshes, rivers, wildlife, and overall quality of life. This is a great opportunity to work together with Dartmouth on a shared issue, and there will be ample occasions in the coming months to learn, listen, and get involved with the movement to prevent the further contamination of our watershed.


For further information or to get involved, please contact Betsy at the WRWA office:

(508) 636-3016, or at b.white@wrwa.com. For an excellent summary of the history of the site, see the stories recently published by the Standard Times:





Caitlin Riley and Nina Santos.
BayCoast Bank supports WRWA Summer Intern Program with $10,000 contribution


For the second year in a row, BayCoast Bank has contributed the sum of $10,000 to the Westport River Watershed Alliance (WRWA) to support the organization's summer internship program.


Since its inception in 1976, WRWA   has grown from 15 members to more than 2000. Numerous projects have been developed over the years that promote education for all ages, perform scientific research and advocacy for environmental issues, and celebrate the watershed. Currently, WRWA's major programs are: the Watershed Education Program in local schools, water quality monitoring, and watershed improvement projects. WRWA is seen as a leader in the environmental grassroots movement in New England.


The WRWA hires students from local colleges to assist with its education and monitoring programs.  BayCoast Bank's investment allows for the WRWA to bring two interns aboard for the summer: Nina Santos and Caitlyn Riley, both students at the Biology Department at UMass Dartmouth. Nina Santos has just completed her freshman year at UMass Dartmouth and is pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. Caitlyn is a recent graduate of UMass Dartmouth, who hopes continue on to earn a graduate degree in Ecology in the future.


BayCoast Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Christ said, "the internships offered by the WRWA give students a unique opportunity to forge connections between their academics and the real world. It's an invaluable experience that merges hands-on learning with career exploration. We are proud to once again support the WRWA and its educational programs."


WRWA Executive Director Matt Patrick thanked BayCoast for its generous contribution and commented, "It helps us do two things: educate children and provide work experience for two very promising graduates from our local state university who are interested in pursuing careers that will benefit the environment."



About BayCoast Bank

BayCoast Bank, formerly Citizens~Union Savings Bank, is a mutually-owned savings bank which was chartered in 1851.Currently, the Bank serves southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, with locations in Fall River, Fairhaven, New Bedford, North Dighton, Seekonk, Somerset, Swansea, Westport,   and Tiverton, RI. BayCoast Bank offers a wide range of financial services including investment management, trust services, and insurance and brokerage services to consumers and businesses. Its affiliates include BayCoast Financial Services, offering stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities and college savings plans; and Partners Insurance Group, LLC, an independent agency representing several insurance companies that provide automobile, home, life and business coverage. Nicholas Christ is the Bank's President and Chief Executive Officer. Main headquarters are at 30 Bedford Street, Fall River, MA 02721. For additional information on the Bank or its services, please visit www.BayCoastBank.com or call 508-678-7641.


Great Day for A Ride -Thanks to All - Matt Patrick, Executive Director

2013 Westport River Watershed Ride
Thanks to all of you who made the trip and bravely went forth in the stormy weather to ride in the first annual Westport River Watershed Ride. After the rain stopped and the wind let up, it turned into a beautiful day. We had 35 riders. Scott Horsley and my good friend Senator O'Leary showed up from the Cape. Everyone was happy with the results so we will do it next year. Some riders came from far away to join us in celebrating the beautiful Westport River and its watershed. People came from Worcester, Boston and Cape Cod. Let us know what we can do to make it better next year.


Our intention was to get everyone together at the end to do the watershed environmental quiz but it never worked out for a number of reasons. Since then I sent it out to the ride participants and received several responses. Now I have to grade the tests.


For those of you who live in the area, I occasionally set up a ride after work. We meet in the Westport River Watershed Alliance parking lot, 1151 Main Road. If you are interested in getting those invitations, respond via email to director@wrwa.com.   


Thanks again and we hope to see you next year!


Days of Old When Rum Was Gold

The WRWA 2013 Summer Gala & Silent Auction 

"Days of Old When Rum Was Gold"  

Saturday August 10, 2013

Held at the entrance to the Westport Harbor AKA The Devils Pocket on the former Charlton Estate.

Make Reservations online today: 

Summer Programs for Kids Summer Programs

There's still a few spaces left for our summer programs for kids. Visit our website for information, schedules and prices.

Many Thanks to Supporters

Lees Martket
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