Westport River Watershed Alliance
River News - April, 2014
Expert to Speak On Wellfleet's Oyster Reef Project

Matthew Patrick, Executive Director  

Curt Felix 


The Westport River Watershed Alliance has invited Curt Felix, an expert on oyster cultivation, to speak about Wellfleet's oyster reef building project. This could be an option to help restore the East Branch of Westport River. The presentation is endorsed by the Westport Shellfish Advisory Board and Gary Sherman, the Westport Shellfish Constable. 


The Town of Wellfleet used oyster shells to build oyster reefs and grow oysters in their nitrogen polluted harbors. Too much nitrogen in salt water stimulates the growth of chlorophyll and algae that block sunlight from the bottom of estuaries. When this happens, eelgrass and other inhabitants of a normal, healthy salt water ecosystem die off. The Mass Estuaries Project's research has found this to be the problem with the East Branch of the Westport River.


Wellfleet found that oysters and their reefs are surprisingly effective at mitigating the nitrogen problem. Find out why by attending the talk. The presentation is scheduled for Tuesday, May 6th from 12 to 2 at the Westport Library. It's free to the public. Those who RSVP the Westport River Watershed Alliance, 508-636-3016, will be provided lunch at the meeting. Space is limited to 60 people. 

Update on Hix Bridge Rubble Removal
WRWA recently found out that our legislators were successful in getting $400,000 put into both the House and Senate versions of the Transportation bond bill to remove the granite blocks and rubble out from under Hix Bridge. Thank Senator Mike Rodrigues and Representative Paul Schmid when you see them. This is a big deal!


Last week, we met with the folks from the Army Corps of Engineers to initiate the proposal that could gain a $600,000 match for the state money. The ACOE program is used to restore habitat. By removing the rubble and restoring a faster current under Hix Bridge we hope to restore the habitat for oysters and eel grass.


It's Time to Renew

Just as Spring is a time of renewal, with new hopes, greening trees, warming days, it is also time to renew your annual WRWA membership. Working together we can do our part in protecting and restoring the River. Please renew your membership today so we can make a difference. You can renew online here: http://westportwatershed.org/become-a-member/.

A Great Opportunity to Participate in Westport's Future

The Westport Master Plan Update Committee is holding the first of four public workshops to allow you the opportunity to provide input into the Master Plan Update process. The topics for the first workshop are important to the work of WRWA:  Natural Resources, Open Space & Recreation, and Water, Wastewater and Stormwater.


The workshop is Saturday April 12th from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm at the Westport Public Library, 408 Old County Rd. To see a draft of the goals and objectives developed to date visit the Westport Planning Board website at:  http://gator776-twnwstpt-planningboard.hgsitebuilder.com/mp-forum-1 


Your input is important. If you are unable to attend the workshop, you can forward your comments to the Town Planner, James Hartnett, 856 Main Rd., Westport, MA 02790 prior to the workshop.

WRWA Updates
Gay Gillespie, Development Director


Looking Back....What a winter it has been! WRWA's Buoy the Winter Blues was a huge success and there was not an unhappy face to be seen. Over 200 guests attended the evening and bid on over 50 wonderful creations. Photos can be seen on our Facebook page under photos. 

Huge thanks to Bill Harley who celebrated spring at a benefit concert at the Westport High School in March. It was a special time for families and friends to meet with Bill and hear his songs and stories.

Looking forward....  

Watershed Ride - June 15

Westport Watershed Ride

Start training now for WRWA's Father's Day Bike Ride on Sunday June 15. Cyclists will again choose from several bike routes and set off from Buzzards Bay Brewing on Horseneck Road to enjoy the watershed's beautiful landscapes. The ride ends back at the Brewery where refreshments will be provided. This is a great way to spend time with your family and friends as you cruise the back roads and support a great organization. Pre-registration is $40 member, $50 nonmember and day of $50 member, $60 nonmember.

River Day

River Day is Coming

On Saturday June 28 celebrate the river. Paddlers can meet at Hix Bridge and paddle up river to the Head Landing where many fun activities are planned - fish printing (bring some of your clothing to print), face painting, lots of music, a live raptor show and much more. Check the website for more details.

Wild Edibles -  Foraging Walk
On Sunday May 18th, Russ Cohen will again be hosting a wild edible foraging walk in the woods and along the shoreline in Westport Point. Guests will meet at the WRWA office and carpool to the site. Preregistration is required as lunch is provided after the walk. The cost is $25 for members and $30 for nonmembers. Call the office to register 508 636 3016 or go on line at http://westportwatershed.org/ 
Unique Opportunity for WRWA
Greater Tiverton Community Chorus Supports the community


The Greater Tiverton Community Chorus is supporting WRWA and The Nature Conservancy with donations from ticket sales for their Spring concerts titled WATER MUSIC. Chorale director Beth Armstrong has chosen an assortment of music that celebrates and recognizes the importance of water, and most importantly pays tribute to the late Pete Seeger's commitment to rivers, particularly his beloved Hudson.


The concerts are Friday April 25th, 7:30 pm at St. John the Baptist Church in Westport; Saturday April 26th, 7:30 pm at The Penfield School in Middletown; and Sunday April 28th 4:00 pm at St. Therese Catholic Church in Tiverton. Be sure to purchase tickets and support WRWA and TNC. Tickets are $15 ($8 for students) and will be available at the WRWA office.


How Are Your Watershed Ponds?

Betsy White, Advocacy Director


Thanks to the WRWA WIF (Watershed Improvement Fund), we have been able to consecutively sample three major ponds in our watershed for water quality over the past six years. These ponds are Cockeast, Forge, and Adamsville. Why do we sample? Because ponds such as these often act like "canaries in a coal mine" for a watershed. If they start to show signs of bad health (i.e. nutrient enrichment), then we know that it is only a matter of time before it effects downstream water bodies such as the Westport River. To prevent this, the sources of the pollutant need to be sought out and their contributions decreased or eliminated. A water quality sampling program such as this is a proactive, inexpensive way to monitor and address nitrogen and its management.

It is important to monitor water quality in consecutive years in order to determine if there are any trends or changes occurring over time. For example, the culvert pipe leading from Cockeast pond to the Harbor was reset in December of 2010, allowing water and marine life to flow more easily in to and out of the pond. Fortunately, WRWA had sampled the pond the three years prior to this project, and we have continued to sample the pond in the last three years. The pipe was placed lower in the channel, which increased tidal exchange between the pond and the harbor. This has resulted in lower water levels, especially when water is moving out (ebbing) of the pond, and higher salinities, moving the ecosystem to more of a brackish salt pond environment rather than a freshwater pond environment.  Nitrogen concentrations have decreased moderately since 2010, although they are still not at a healthy level. Water clarity has also increased, and because the pond is relatively shallow, this has meant that more sunlight is able to reach the bottom and promote the growth of bottom-growing algae.  We will need to continue to sample Cockeast Pond in order to tell if the water quality is really decreasing since the culvert project.

Adamsville Pond is another example of having available water quality data before and after a project. The pond has been sampled by WRWA since 2008, and has seen many changes in water levels over those years. The nitrogen concentrations in the pond remain above healthy levels, but are showing a slight downward trend.  In the summer of 2013, the pond dried up due to water leaking past the old dam structure. Because of this, we were unable to collect water samples from the pond. However, with renewed sampling in 2014, the effects of this drying event on water quality can be measured and nitrogen can continue to be monitored.   

Similar to the other two ponds, Forge Pond has shown a decrease in nitrogen concentrations over the past few years, but they still remain relatively high in terms of water quality. In all the ponds, phosphate levels remain low, which is not unusual in waterbodies surrounded by wooded areas, as are Adamsville Pond and Forge Pond, or in saline ecosystems, such as Cockeast Pond.

Each pond can be considered a "canary" in the area of town in which it is located. Currently they are all showing signs of moderate nutrient enrichment, which may indicate a pollution problem in their area. However, the slight downward trend in nitrogen levels recently may also indicate some good things happening. We will continue to be proactive and keep a close eye on water quality of these important ponds.

Volunteers Wanted to Count Fish
The Westport Fish Commissioners are seeking volunteers to observe the herring run at Cock East pond in April and May. It's a late start, but this was a cold and long winter. 

Each observation takes as little as 15 minutes, so we hope to have a hearty band of fish watchers. Training is provided. Contact pkastner@charter.net
2013 WRWA Annual Report - Available Online
In an effort to acknowledge the many ways in which our contributors support WRWA throughout the year, members are listed according to their total annual giving. Gifts in this total include memberships, Annual Fund contributions, matching gifts, memorial contributions, endowment gifts, Summer Gala contributions (excluding auction purchases) and other donations from January 1 - December 31, 2013. Every effort has been made to ensure that these listings are accurate and inclusive. If you feel that an error has been made, please contact the WRWA office.
To view the Annual Report, visit our website:
WRWA Summer Programs for KIDS
What are you up to this summer? Join WRWA for our fun filled summer science programs. Registrations are coming in already so sign up early.



Many Thanks to Our Corporate Supporters



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