Westport River Watershed Alliance
River News - July, 2013

- Please Join Us -
Make Your Reservations - A Good Time - For A Good Cause
WRWA's Annual Gala and Silent Auction
"Days of Old When Rum Was Gold"
The WRWA 2013 Summer Gala & Silent Auction 

Saturday August 10, 2013

Held at the entrance to the Westport Harbor AKA The Devils Pocket on the former Charlton Estate. This year's theme: "Days of Old When Rum Was Gold"  
Make Reservations online today. Make your reservation before August 2, 2013 for member prices.
  • Where:  63 Prospect Ave, Westport Harbor
  • When:  5-8 P.M.
  • How:  Call or go to our website to make your reservation.
  • Reservations held at the door -


The evening will feature a delicious selection of hors d'oeuvres, salads, and desserts to accompany libations. WRWA  will again use only compostable service items at this event, minimizing a great deal of trash and waste.


Each year, the main attraction at the Gala is the WRWA Silent Auction. The variety and selection of items is always captivating and intriguing. Grateful thanks to the community of businesses, local artists, craftspeople and residents who offer their talents, goods, and services to benefit the Westport River Watershed Alliance.


Click the video below to preview the evenings musical entertainment.
Toph and Tom Music
Toph and Tom Music


Your Support Made River Day Exceptional

River Day 2013 was a resounding success!  Of special note this year was the staged entertainment. The Westport High School Rock/Jazz ensemble opened the day with a wonderful selection of music that was followed by a Live Raptor Show with Marla Isaac who had the audience spellbound with her collection of birds of prey. Our local Spindle Rock River Rats livened up the afternoon with their assortment of bluegrass tunes, and The Basics wrapped up the day with Rock n Roll from the 60s and 70s. The music added to the festivities, particularly as the paddlers arrived at the Head.


This year children's activities were scaled back with more emphasis on t-shirt printing and the old-fashioned games - hoop rolling, hoop tossing and sack races. As one volunteer put it, "the look of wonderment as the kids painted their dead fish and then pressed it and saw the perfect impression, brought huge smiles. I can't wait for the next River Day!"  Donna Mitchell who told Native American stories said, "It was better than last year with many more kids, families and ethnicities. I'd give it a B+; and know my A is hard to come by."


More exhibitors joined us with a variety of activities. The Lloyd Center brought their touch tank of ocean critters and the Fishermen's Association had an authentic working river skiff with a collection of antique fishing apparatus. Of special interest was the photo exhibit with pictures submitted for the photo contest. Seven photographers submitted 27 photos. Judges Wendy Goldberg and Rich Dionne awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places with 9 honorable mentions. The exhibit tent was centrally located this year so visitors could see and hear the entertainment while browsing through the tent.


WRWA is indebted to the over 60 volunteers who helped either all day or for 2 hour segments. As River Day is WRWA's "friend-raiser" and not a fundraiser, business sponsorships and most importantly the grant from the WCC's distribution from the Helen E. Ellis Charitable Trust is most appreciated. 

WRWA Salutes Dale Thomas - River Hero
Dale Thomas
Dale Thomas
Dale Stephen Thomas, 94, of Westport, passed away on Saturday, June 22, 2013. Born in Diamond, OH, son of the late Charles H. and Alta J. (Hollister) Thomas, he resided in Westport for many years. In 1940, Dale left the farm where he was raised to serve in World War II, first as a private and until discharge as a First Lieutenant in 1946. He met Nancy Virginia Bosworth of Boston at the USO, and they married in 1942 at Old South Church in Boston. He obtained advanced degrees in food technology from UMass Amherst on the GI bill, and worked as a food research and product development manager for Standard Brands, General Mills, Friends Baked Beans, and Walter Baker Chocolate. Dale retired to farm in Westport, and among other crops, sold rhubarb and raspberries to Lee's Market.


Dale will be remembered for his active participation in his community; with the Board of Health, the Conservation Commission, the Westport River Watershed Alliance, and the Westport Senior Center. Every week for ten years he, Arnold Tripp and June Johnson monitored water quality in fifteen Westport locations -collecting, plating, reading and graphing data for long-term analysis.


He served as President of the Board of the WRWA from 1985-1988, and again in 1994, when he was honored with the volunteer of the year award for his water quality monitoring project. Dale danced for many years with the Country Dance Society in Boston and here, bringing English and Irish country dancing and music to local venues. Prior to his death, he was writing his memoirs, beginning with the immigration of his clan from Wales and ending with the joy of his life in Westport.


How to Serve Oysters   

Comments by Matt Patrick, Executive Director 


This is a great article about oysters and their role in cleaning up our  estuaries.  An oyster can filter a gallon of water every hour and they are doing that 23 hours a day except for the coldest months of the  year. Full grown oysters cannot survive in sediment and succeeding classes of oyster spat will not take if they don't have a hard surface  to latch on to.  That's what makes the Hix Bridge project so important. If we want to see a resurgence of historically large oyster beds North  of Hix Bridge and have them helping us remove nitrogen from the river, we must remove the blocks of granite from the channels to increase the  tidal flow. The sediment will move down stream and dissipate in the larger volume of water.


Falmouth  is implementing a demonstration project with oysters to see if their  ability to remove nitrogen from our bays can be quantified to qualify as  a method to achieve total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) of nitrogen. If it is successful every town can use oysters as a method of achieving  their clean-up of their bays and estuaries. And they will get more oysters to eat into the bargain!


Click on the link below and learn something about oysters and their historic role in our estuarine ecosystem.

Read the Article here. Go to this link:  


Is the Water Clean Enough to Swim ?  

WRWA River Testing Results Posted Weekly  


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 


Cecil Smith Landfill Update
Location of the landfill off Old Fall River Road in Dartmouth.

The MA DEP recently held the last of three public meetings at Dartmouth High School on July 11, where residents voiced their concerns and asked many questions about the proposal to cap the Cecil Smith landfill in North Dartmouth. This proposal involves trucking in low-level contaminated soil for three years to cover the 23-acre waste site located in the northern portion of the Westport River watershed. Residents and local officials, as well as WRWA, have asked DEP to intensify their sampling at the site, not only of what is leaching out but also of what has been dumped there. The previous owner, Cecil Smith, is responsible for two other toxic waste sites, with one being a Superfund site: RE-Solve, Inc. and The Ledge, both in Dartmouth. It is believed that this third landfill off of Old Fall River Road also contains toxic materials, and residents and local officials are asking DEP to conduct a comprehensive investigation into current conditions before they make any decisions regarding what action to take. In addition, people are asking that DEP consider more options to remediate the site rather than just this one proposal.


Representative Paul Schmid of Westport spoke at the meeting on behalf of the Westport River and protecting this sensitive and vital resource. Representative Schmid and Senator Mike Rodrigues are keeping informed of the situation and share concerns that this landfill site poses threats to our watershed and its ecology.


DEP will not make a decision on this capping project for some time. WRWA is hopeful that there will be many conversations between the agency and residents, local organizations, local officials, and legislators before DEP makes a decision. DEP has made and continues to make an effort to solicit and listen to local concerns. WRWA will continue to be one of the many voices working to protect our environment and public health. Additionally, we will provide information and support to the community and the Towns of Westport and Dartmouth, as they grapple with how to deal with this potentially harmful situation.


WRWA remains committed to protecting and preserving the Westport River watershed, and we urge you to add your voice as one of the many concerned citizens who asking DEP to do everything possible to minimize the threats from this dump site in our watershed.


For more information on this issue, please contact Betsy at b.white@wrwa.com, or call (508) 636-3016.


Summer Programs for Kids Summer Programs

Summer is rolling along. We still have some spots 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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