Westport River Watershed Alliance
River News - December, 2014
Holiday Greetings 

Roberta Carvalho, Interim Executive Director   

The Westport rivers are different with every day, every tide, every season. And they would be nowhere near as beautiful or serene if it were not for the work of many dedicated staff, board members, and hundreds of volunteers over the past decades.
At the Holiday Season, our thoughts turn gratefully to those who have made our progress possible. It is in this spirit we say thank you to our members and supporters and send you our best wishes for the holidays and a happy New Year. The WRWA office will be closed December 24 - January 2 to give our staff a well deserved holiday break.
Deborah Weaver Named WRWA's New Executive Director
Tom Schmitt, President, WRWA Board of Directors

The Westport River Watershed Alliance (WRWA) is pleased to announce that Westport resident Deborah Weaver will become its Executive Director effective January 1, 2015.


Deborah founded and oversaw operations for two Boston-area non-profit organizations which she led for over fifteen years.  Most recently, she founded and served as executive director for Girls LEAP (Lifetime Empowerment & Awareness Program), which teaches safety, self-defense and empowerment to over 10,000 disadvantaged Boston girls. Under Deborah's leadership Girl's LEAP was recognized by Mayor Tom Menino as one of three girls' agencies he was "most proud to support."  Deborah also teaches dance and creative athletics at several eastern Massachusetts colleges.  She is currently on the faculty at Wellesley College, where she has been a member of the Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics Department for 29 years.

We are fortunate to have found someone with Deborah's leadership and public service experience. Working with students, staff, volunteers, donors, teachers, and community leaders at local non-profit organizations has prepared her well to lead the WRWA. She has also realized tremendous success in grant writing, securing corporate sponsorships and developing partnerships with agencies, schools and colleges throughout greater Boston. A lifelong outdoors person, Deborah has extensive experience hiking, bicycling, rock climbing, kayaking and canoeing.She has also performed water quality monitoring in the "lakes region" of western Maine. Those attributes along with Deborah's commitment to the environment and our watershed are a perfect match for the WRWA's ambitious programs and objectives.      

Tom Robinson, WRWA Secretary, chaired the committee that successfully searched for and recruited Deborah. That committee included Charley Appleton, WRWA vice president; Marilyn Packard-Luther, WRWA education committee chair; Jim Whitin, WRWA advocacy committee chair; and board member Curt Freese. Deborah succeeds Matt Patrick, who left the position in July to run for the State Senate from the Plymouth-Barnstable district.

Many thanks to Curt Freese and Roberta Carvalho, WRWA Science Director for their combined six months of interim executive director service. 

Help Us Reach Our 2014 Goal fundraising_60.gif


We need your help. Each year we have two fundraising campaigns - a membership drive in the spring and an Annual Fund Drive in the fall. Please consider an Annual Fund gift to WRWA, above and beyond your membership support. All donations are tax-deductible. To make your donation online visit the link below.   


Whether we're tracking bacteria sources in the West Branch, or raising awareness through our K-12th grade educational programs, it's your continued support that makes our work possible. With your help we are managing stormwater runoff and other pollution sources that affect our drinking water, shellfish beds, fisheries and other resources within our watershed. Follow the link above to donate today, and help us drive this year's goal out of the park.
Bird Counting Volunteers Wanted
Roberta Carvalho, Science Director


WRWA has been working for a while now to provide a better way to identify bacteria pollution sources in the West Branch of the River. We are fortunate to have grant funding from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust to help us advance this research. Now we need your help to count waterfowl populations specifically in the West Branch. Volunteers are needed to visit and count waterfowl at a designated survey site.


We will hold a training/information session for interested volunteers at 10 A.M. on Thursday, January 8 at WRWA's office. If you are interested but unable to attend the training, please contact Roberta Carvalho (water@wrwa.com) to get information on what you can do. The information we collect will be added to an existing data set of bird observations in this portion of the River. Volunteers can count birds from publically accessible sections of the West Branch coastline with safe and legal viewing of the West Branch of the River.


To adequately view and identify waterfowl from the shoreline, surveyors need either binoculars or a spotting scope. WRWA will loan out binoculars to volunteers if needed. Birds can be a significant source of fecal coliform (FC) bacteria. Swans, geese, gulls, and other waterfowl can all elevate bacterial counts, especially in wetlands, ponds, and rivers. Research shows that the feces from these birds, contain what can be considered significant numbers of FC per gram. Considering the average weights and FC concentrations of the goose feces, they can potentially contribute approximately 128 thousand fecal coliform colonies per fecal deposit to the surface water. The potential FC impact of these birds is relative to the numbers and types of birds, as well as the duration and time of day that the birds roost on the surface water and their defecation rates. Gathering this information will help us understand the many sources of bacteria in the River.

WRWA's Science & Education Center Update
WRWA's ambitious project to restore and adapt the historic Head of Westport garage is proceeding on schedule.  When complete in mid-2016, that space will become the WRWA's science and education center and new headquarters.  
The WRWA facilities committee, chaired by vice president Charley Appleton, has selected an architect: Clearwater Architects of Westport, who will begin design work within the next few weeks.  The WRWA also recently signed a lease with the Town of Westport for the 5,000 square feet of land on which the building is located and is currently working with the Town's Landing Commission on a longer-term agreement for WRWA's use of that Head of Westport property.
To attain required funding for the Head of Westport building project, the WRWA formed a capital campaign committee, chaired by Linda Findlay, who also oversees the WRWA development committee.Thus far the committee has secured contributions and pledges totaling over $250,000 - to commence planning and design activity. Once the WRWA has raised sufficient resources to restore and adapt the building, we will request contractors to submit proposals on the construction project itself.
If you want to find out more about the project or how you can help, please contact Gay Gillespie at 508-636-3016.
Want More Local Environmental News?
In October WRWA was featured in the online newsletter ecoRI News. You can read the article here: http://www.ecori.org/massachusetts-enviro-ed/2014/10/15/alliance-holds-strong-in-protecting-westport-river.html
Our friends at ecoRI now need your help. Founded in 2009, ecoRI News is a nonprofit Providence-based online media organization dedicated to reporting on the environment in southern New England. A generous family foundation has offered to award ecoRI News a $25,000 challenge grant if we can reach a goal of 11,500 e-newsletter subscribers by the end of the year. In order to reach this goal, we must sign up 590 more subscribers before Dec. 31.
You can sign up for this weekly news by going to: www.ecoRI.org/read. They do a fantastic job of reporting environmental news for the whole southeastern New England region. We appreciate their fine journalism skills.
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