Westport River Watershed Alliance
River News - September, 2015
When it Rains it Drains - This Summer's River Testing Results
Roberta Carvalho, Science Director 
WRWA has been measuring bacteria levels in the River since 1991. Bacteria levels can change by the day. We test the Westport River weekly from June-August. So, you might be wondering, what's the diagnosis?

Basically we continue to see elevated fecal coliform bacteria levels during wet weather events. Wet weather is defined as any day in which >0.25" of rain fell within the 48 hours preceding sample collection. This summer was no exception.  See the chart below. During dry weather, bacteria levels are low enough that it's safe for swimming, boating and shellfishing (in approved areas). Bacteria levels are typically elevated during wet weather events, and good precautions to take include avoiding swimming right after a heavy rain.  The big news is that 15 years ago bacteria levels were much worse.  
So, what's polluting the water and how can this be fixed? What we need to come to terms with is that water resource ailments have one thing in common: the source of contamination. That source is mainly us. 
Through our daily activities, we inadvertently pollute our own precious water resources with the many pollutants we leave on the landscape that wash into the water. These include lawn and agricultural fertilizers, antifreeze and oil from our cars, pet waste and our own waste.

Much of the damage is done by water washing off streets and parking lots. Because the rainwater in the streets can't be absorbed into the ground where the soil filters and treats most of the pollution, it simply washes the pollution off of these hard surfaces and into our waterways.
Another big contributor to water pollution is failing and inadequate septic systems, and cesspools that contaminate the groundwater that feeds into our rivers, ponds, and beaches.
The good news is: This can all be fixed. In contrast to when the area was originally developed, we now understand the process of water pollution and how to treat it. The challenge is that it will take money, effort and a lot of political will to make it happen. Water needs to be diverted into vegetated soils rather than into rivers. Streets and parking lots need to be redesigned. And we need to be more careful about what we put onto the landscape. We need to pick up after our pets, use less lawn fertilizer and keep our cars leak-free. We need to stress to our political leaders that clean water is important to our health, recreation and quality of life.
The Bad News - Nutrient Pollution - A Different Beast

The Westport River should have clean water, abundant eelgrass and vibrant estuarine life. Increasingly we have seen cloudy water, excess algae, and sometimes fishkills, the canary in the coal mine for water quality problems. The problem is nitrogen pollution and it is the greatest long-term threat to the health Westport River. We also work each year with the Buzzards Bay Coalition to monitor and measure this pollutant. For more information on results of nitrogen/nutrient testing visit:  
Thanks for making this year's Gala a success!  

This year's Summer Gala on August 8th was a beautiful evening of music, great food and conversation - and an impressive collection of fine art, goods and services at our silent and live auctions.  Five hundred guests enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Allens Pond and Buzzards Bay and helped make this Gala one of our best ever. 

Special thanks to our annual sponsors (always listed below), our volunteers who planned and toiled for months to make it all happen, and to our members and guests who supported this annual tradition.
The Gala is our most important fund raising events of the year, and helps support all of our indispensable science and education projects and programs.
 Volunteer for Annual COASTSWEEP Beach Clean-up Sept. 19

Join WRWA and the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) for the annual COASTSWEEP shoreline clean up on Saturday, September 19 from 10 a.m. to noon.
Each September and October, thousands of volunteers throughout Massachusetts turn out for COASTSWEEP-the statewide coastal cleanup sponsored by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM). COASTSWEEP is part of the International Coastal Cleanup organized by Ocean Conservancy in Washington, DC. Volunteers from all over the world collect marine debris-trash, fishing line, and any other human-made items-and record what they find. This information is then analyzed and used to identify sources of marine debris and develop education and policy initiatives to help reduce it.
Volunteers are invited to meet at the Town Beach parking lot on Cherry and Webb Lane at 10 o'clock. Gloves, trash bags and other materials will be provided. In addition to removing the debris from the beach, important data will be collected and returned to the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management. Call WRWA at 508-636-3016 or email Steve at [email protected] to sign up.
Recycle Old Electronics September 23

Due to overwhelming demand, a third Electronics Recycling Day is scheduled for Wednesday, September 23, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. This is an ideal way to thoughtfully dispose of old cell phones, computers, TV's and appliances. WRWA will once again be partnering with IndieCycle to host the Electronics Recycling drop-off event at our Main Road headquarters.
The previous two recycling days in 2015  brought in over 12,000 pounds of recyclable electronic materials, which illustrates the considerable demand for this service. "People came from Westport and many surrounding communities to drop off their old electronic devices - everyone was really happy to unload these materials and know that they would be safely recycled," said Deborah Weaver, WRWA Executive Director. The event is open to all South Coast communities.
Items accepted at no charge: Computers, laptops, PDA's, cell phones, mice, keyboards, printers, toner cartridges, CD/DVD players, radios, network equipment, wires, stereo equipment, telephones, microwaves, small household appliances, and acid lead batteries including auto/marine and Back-ups.  Anything with a wire!
$10 disposal fee: all TV's & monitors, mini-fridges, air conditioners, dehumidifiers and any other appliances containing chemical coolants.
Items not accepted: light bulbs, single use batteries, furniture, or any hazardous materials like paint, household chemicals, and broken TV tubes.
This recycling event will take place courtesy of Indie Cycle, LLC, a Rhode Island-based company dedicated to recycling, with "zero landfill and zero tax dollars." They do not remarket any hard drives or data storage devices. All electronic devices are transferred to ORS, a local R2 certified recycler, for processing. For more information about Indie Cycle, visit their web page at www.indiecycle.com

The Westport River Watershed Alliance is located at 1151 Main Road, Westport.
For more information, contact Steve Connors, WRWA Community Engagement Manager, at 508-636-3016, or by email at [email protected].                              
Take a Walk with WRWA and Friends
Headwaters Conservation Area

This fall, WRWA is teaming up with The Westport Land Conservation Trust (WLCT), The Dartmouth Natural Resource Trust (DNRT), and the Fall River forester Mike Labossiere to explore important areas of our 100 square mile watershed. Sign up for free guided hikes through conservation land where Westport River tributaries begin!

Headwaters Hike with WLCT
:  Saturday, September 26 at 10 a.m.  Headwaters Conservation Area, Blossom Road, Westport
Watershed Walk with DNRT:  Saturday, October 3 at 10 a.m.   "Watershed Walk" at Ridge Hill Reserve, Dartmouth, where the Shingle River meets the headwaters of the East Branch. 
Boiling Brook Walk with Mike Labossiere, Fall River Forestry: Saturday, November 7, 10 a.m. at Watuppa Reservation, Blossom Road, Fall River.

Call or email to sign up or for information: 508-636-3016 or
[email protected] 
Creature Feature -  The Atlantic Mole Crab (Emerita talpoida)
Becky Buchannan, WRWA Commonwealth Corps Educator

WRWA's mission, in part, is to educate the general public about the interrelationship of our waters, soils, plants, animals, and people. This River News article is about a locally found crustacean - the mole crab.

Atlantic Mole Crabs
Have you ever stuck your toes in the sand and felt something tickle your feet? It may have been a mole crab, often referred to as a sand crab, trying to burrow back into the sand. This small crustacean grows to be about the size of your thumb. There are many different species of mole crabs, and they can be found on both coasts of the United States. They are usually gray or tan in color and have a speckled shell to camouflage with the sand. These crabs have five pairs of legs, but lucky for beachgoers, no pincers!

You can find these crabs in the swash zone, the area where ocean waves break. Other crabs tend to move sideways, but the mole crab swims backwards. They move up and down the beach with incoming waves, and as the wave recedes back into the ocean, they burrow into the sand backwards, leaving just their eyes and respiring antennae sticking out. When waves wash over them, the crab extends two feather-like feeding antennae, and catch tiny plankton to eat. To find a mole crab, stand in the swash zone and look for a small "V" in the wet sand. This shape is their feeding antennae sticking out of the sand. Gently dig your fingers in, scoop up the sand, and you should find a mole crab.

Mole crabs live for about two-three years, and are sometimes able to reproduce during their first year of life. The female crabs are larger than the males, and she produces about 45,000 eggs. She carries them on her abdomen and releases them after 30 days. The eggs are bright orange, but turn brown just before they hatch. Mole crabs go through a molt in the spring, and you can see little pieces of their exoskeletons near the shore.

The swash zone is a dangerous place to hang out. Mole crabs are eaten by many fishes, sea birds, and shore birds. Mole crabs are also used as bait in the fishing industry.

Summer Music Series Brought
Jonathan Edwards at Town Farm
Great Music to Westport 

This summer, WRWA partnered with The Westport Land Conservation Trust and Mass Audubon Allens Pond to bring three live music concerts to the Westport Waterfront. 

Over 1,400 people came out and enjoyed fine performances by Atwater Donnelly at River Day, Toph & Tom at The Duck Derby, and Jonathan Edwards at the Town Farm Family Concert. 

These concerts were supported in part by grants from the Helen Ellis Charitable Trust through the Westport Cultural Council.
Many Thanks to Our Corporate Supporters



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