River News - September 2012
Westport River Watershed Alliance

Thanks for taking the time to check out our newsletter! It's been a busy summer here at WRWA. We thank you for your interest and your continued support.
New Gardens Will Work to Clean Up Runoff
WHD Raingardens 2012
This summer WRWA staff, the Westport Highway Department and engineers from Norfolk Ram worked together to create raingardens to clean up and slow down the stormwater runoff from roofs and parking lots at the Westport Middle School Complex.

This work is part of a multi-phase project. The Town joined the Buzzards Bay National Estuaries Program and the WRWA for assistance in competing for a section 319 grant to fund the project. In Massachusetts, the 319 grant program is administered through the Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Watershed Management. This program provides communities with funds to design and build solutions to control polluted runoff from stormwater. The new work will slow down stormwater from the roofs and parking lots of the Westport Middle School Complex with infiltration basins and rain gardens. Engineers estimate that the site currently contributes over 50% of the stormwater to the Old County Road drainage that flows directly into the west side of the river at the Head.

For more information on how the raingardens work, read this great article in Westport Shorelines:

Beach and River Clean Up - September 22 

This is the 25th year ,Massachusetts volunteers have scoured beaches, river banks, and marshes to pick up trash and record information about types of trash being collected. These volunteers are part of Coastsweep, the Commonwealth's annual coastal cleanup program, organized by the Massachusetts Office of Costal Zone Management and the Urban Harbors Institute of the University of Massachusetts Boston. 


This year, volunteers in Westport will be participating in a Coastsweep cleanup of Cherry & Webb (Town Beach) and Hix Bridge Landing on Saturday, September 22 from 10A.M. to noon. Trash pickers, rubber gloves, and trash bags will be provided. 


You can learn more about the Coastsweep program by visiting the Coastsweep website:  www.coastsweep.umb.edu. 

Another Successful Summer Science Season
Summer Programs

The Westport River Watershed Alliance hosted our 15th year of summer science programs.  The sessions teach about the importance of the Westport River and all of the creatures that call the River home.  This year we reached over 100 participants from ages 3-16.  Participants had a chance to discover the plants of the dunes, local shellfish, flounder, puffer fish, squid and more throughout the 8 weeks of summer program sessions.  We had a wonderful time sharing what we know about the Westport River Watershed and had a great time meeting all of our future stewards.


We send out a big thanks to the Westport Yacht Club for letting the summer programs use their indoor space during rainy days and Osprey Sea Kayak for leading our kayaking programs. Great job goes out to our interns for the summer Katie Daffinee & Ami Araujo and our leaders in training: Max Colt, Logan Branco, Aidan Corey, and Nick Cornell.  See everyone next summer.


Sunset at Sassafras Point -  A Most Memorable Evening

Sassafras Point was the lovely setting for the Westport River Watershed Alliance's summer gala on August 11th.


This event happens with teams of committed volunteers and dedicated staff.  Our success comes from members and guests attendance and participation in our event. The silent auction and raffle is enhanced by generous contributions from local businesses and members who donated superb auction items.  Most fun of all is the inspired bidding!


Many thanks to all who helped make this year's annual event another outstanding success.  To Doug Reed and Will Makris for loaning their lovely meadow on the upper banks of the East Branch of the River; to the many hard working committees and volunteers for their time and energies; to our members and local businesses that donated superb auction items. Special gratitude to Wilhelmina's Catering, the services of Perfect Pour and music by Blues Berry Jam; to our generous food contributors: Chris Schlesinger, Coastal Roasters, Formaggio Kitchen, Green Gal Catering, Milk & Honey Bazaar, Spindrift Soda, Steve Johnson from Rendezvous in Central Square; Ten Cousins, The Back Eddy, The Bayside Restaurant, and Wicked Kickin' Savory Cheesecakes; to Sylvan Nursery for their composting services. 


Special thanks to Corporate Sponsors for their year-round support:   ABC Rent-A-Tent, BayCoast Bank, Bittersweet Farm Restaurant, Elegant Restrooms of Rent-A-Jon, Fiduciary Trust Company International, Lees Market, Lees Oil Service, Mechanics Cooperative Bank. Their generosity supports WRWA's mission and the many projects that protect the Westport River's 100 square-mile watershed. 

Watershed Improvement Project Update 
Coleman Hill Creek

Six years ago, the Westport River Watershed Alliance has established a Watershed Improvement Fund (WIF) to provide partial funding for projects that will make a significant contribution to improving the health of the Westport River watershed.  


This summer WIF funds provided $6,593 to the Town of Westport to improve the stream crossing for Coleman Hill Creek under Pine Hill Road. Many undersized culverts block the upstream migration of anadromous fish like herring, eels and sea-run brook trout. Making the culvert larger and giving it a natural bottom improves animal passage and stream flow. This project was completed July 2012.

Turn Inactive Cell Phones Into Cash for WRWA
cell phone

Recycle your old cell phone while helping WRWA raise money for our operating funds.


Cell phones are extremely popular these days and because there are so many options and new plans available, a growing surplus of used cell phones is developing. If you throw your old cell phones in the trash, these devices may leak Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Arsenic and other toxic substances into the water supply. Municipalities often incinerate their waste, instantly putting these toxic elements into the air, and they return to earth in rain water. Since life on earth depends on water, the threat is clear.


Help WRWA recycle and reuse old cell phones.  Remove all addresses from your old cell phones and bring them into the WRWA office.  When we send them into the company that recycles them we receive money in return for each phone.  This month as an added incentive for every cell phone we recycle we get 1 entry into a $5,000 giveaway! Look through your closets and desk draws to find your inactive cell phone and bring them in to help the environment and WRWA.


Discount Rainbarrels Still Available 


WRWA is offering members the opportunity to purchase a rain barrel for $30, more than half-off retail price. The barrels will be available for pick-up at the WRWA office. These barrels have a 55-gallon capacity and are made of up to 50% recycled materials. Each barrel will come with a spigot, screen, and down-spout adapter.  


If you're interested in purchasing a rain barrel call the WRWA office at (508) 636-3016 or stop by. We're open Monday-Friday 9-5. Payment may be made by check, cash, or credit card. 


Rain barrels are a great way to reduce pollution from stormwater. They are used to collect and store water coming off roofs instead of adding to the stormwater flow. These barrels, when hooked up to the downspouts/drains, also provide an ample supply of water that can be used for lawns, gardens, flower pots, car washing, and other water needs. They can save water and money by using rainwater instead of drinking water for uses around the house.


Installing a rain barrel is a great way to decrease your household's impact on local streams and rivers. It is an individual action that makes a difference, and when the efforts of many people are added up, they definitely make an impact in reducing pollution and cleaning up the River.

Coal Free Massachusetts 

A few months ago Clean Water Action invited WRWA to join the Coal Free Commonwealth coalition. The WRWA board voted to accept that invitation but not without a spirited debate. Coal Free Commonwealth is, "an emerging coalition that envisions a Massachusetts that is energy efficient and powered by clean, renewable energy." The objectives of the coalition are to

  • phase out all coal fired power plants in Massachusetts by 2020;
  • advance energy efficiency and clean renewable energy like responsibly sited wind and solar to support the transition from coal electricity generation in Mass;
  • partner with and empower community leadership with a vision for clean energy and clean tech development for our host communities, including: robust transition plans focused on the long term health of the community, innovative opportunities for growing the green economy, and transitional support for workers and municipal revenues."

This proposal caused us to dig deep because we are neighbors to Brayton Point coal fired power plant in Somerset, the largest coal fired plant in New England and the largest single source of CO2 in the region. The WRWA board debated several questions. Does burning coal (or any fossil fuel) impact the Westport River and its watershed? Has Brayton Point cleaned up its emissions enough already? Are we willing to contribute to it going out of business or will the lower price of natural gas put it out of business anyway? And, is the entire premise realistic knowing that Brayton Point is one of New England's largest generators of electricity?


After a month of research and deliberation, a majority of the board came to the conclusion that the impact on the River and watershed is negative and it is significant; that no matter how much Brayton Point cleaned itself, burning coal will always be unacceptable from a health and environmental standpoint. While it may not be realistic to think that we are capable of putting Brayton Point out of business, we can add pressure that will move them toward further cleaning their emissions or converting to cleaner burning natural gas.


We also anticipate that the Federally designated wind turbine development area between Martha's Vineyard and Block Island 20 to 25 miles off shore (the closest turbine will be 13.8 miles off shore) that is projected to provide at least one gigawatt of electricity will help us transition to a clean energy future by replacing the electricity from Brayton Point and it must be supported. Construction is scheduled to begin 2014 or 2015 with a turn on date about 2016 or 2017. In addition, this project will provide numerous good paying jobs for residents of southeastern Massachusetts.


You will be hearing more about this campaign in the future but don't hesitate to call or write me with any questions.


Matt Patrick, Executive Director, Westport River Watershed Alliance



Feel free to contact us with any questions regarding our programs or current projects. We can be reached at 508-636-3016.
Visit Our Office -
Westport River Watershed Alliance
1151 Main Road
Westport, MA 02790