Westport River Watershed Alliance
River News
Our Mission: to restore, protect, celebrate, and sustain
the natural resources of the Westport River watershed
and its communities of Westport, Dartmouth, Fall River, Freetown,
Little Compton, Tiverton, and Adamsville.
March 2012
Angeline Brook
Meeting Will Detail Results of Long Awaited Nitrogen Loading Study of the Westport River 


On March 8, 2012, there will be a public presentation of the results of the Massachusetts Estuaries Project Report (MEP) for the Westport River. The presentati0n will be given by Dr. Brian Howes, MEP Project Director at UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST). The presentation will be held at the Alice A. Macomber Primary School, 154 Gifford Road, Westport from 7-9 pm on Thursday, March 8.


Preliminary results of the MEP study show that the Westport River is experiencing a level of nitrogen pollution that is threatening the health of the river and its ecosystem. This is important information because the River is a critical component of not only the Town of Westport, but of the region as well. As the River lives, so does the culture, economy, ecology, history, and community of Westport.  


This report provides a significant opportunity for the community to engage in helping to "clean up" the River. The work of the Westport River Watershed Alliance (WRWA) has provided the critical water quality data, much like a doctor's check-up report. However, the Town of Westport must determine the approaches and means for restoring the River to healthy conditions. The involvement of the community, through support, participation, interest, and awareness will go a long way towards achieving solutions to the pollution that will best benefit not only the River and its watershed, but the residents and visitors of this area as well.

Community Septic Loan Program Article at Town Meeting
The major reason for safe disposal of sewage is to prevent the spread of disease. If a septic system is properly sited, is working properly, and has been maintained regularly, it will effectively and efficiently remove disease-causing bacteria. Inadequately treated sewage from failing septic systems poses a significant threat to drinking water and human health because diseases and infections may be transferred to people and animals directly and immediately. Inadequately treated sewage from failing septic systems is the most frequently reported cause of groundwater contamination.  WRWA wants to help people fix their broken or failing septic systems, because a system with problems causes pollution in our waterways.  We applaud the Westport Estuaries Committee and the Board of Health have co-sponsored an article for the 2012 Town Meeting Warrant for participation in a Community Septic Management Program. 


This program will enable our community to provide financial assistance to homeowners living in environmentally sensitive areas, who have failed septic systems. Through this program, the engineering and general construction costs associated with replacement or upgrade of a failed septic system can be provided as a low interest loan, to you, the homeowner. The Commonwealth provides funding for the Community Septic Management Program to the Community through a "State Revolving Fund" (SRF) loan. The participation of homeowners in areas identified as environmentally sensitive (to failed systems) is not mandatory. However, if the homeowner's septic system constitutes an imminent health hazard according to the local Board of Health, the homeowner can be given priority for assistance. Homeowner participation is encouraged because correctly operating septic systems are beneficial to the environment and the low interest rate offered by the Program helps homeowners comply with Title 5.  Homeowners may also qualify for a 40% state tax credit. 

WRWA is available to speak to any group regarding the Community Septic Management Program, the Massachusetts Estuaries Project or the River in general.

For more information visit the DEP website:

Scholarships for Green Minded High School Seniors


We are pleased to offer two $500 scholarship opportunities for graduating seniors in the Westport River watershed: Fall River, Dartmouth, Freetown, Westport, Little Compton, and Tiverton.  One award, was made possible by the generosity of the late Margot C. Boote, who was active in educational and the environmental issues. The second award was initiated by Bill Heath Jr. in memory of his parents Ruth and Bill Heath.


The merit award applications are available by clicking here, or on our website www.westportwatershed.org or by calling the WRWA office at 508-636-3016. Local high schools also have applications on file at their guidance department office.


All applications are due into WRWA  (PO Box 3427, Westport, MA 02790) no later than April 1, 2012.


The Alliance has a proud record of environmental stewardship and has expressed  its commitment to carry on this tradition.  The merit awards offer an opportunity to honor students who have demonstrated a passion for learning about and protecting the watershed environment.

Save A Spot - Kids Summer Program Schedule for 2012


The Westport River Watershed Alliance is offering fun, hands on summer science programs for ages 3-16.  Participants discover marine life, create eco-crafts, learn about coastal habitats and enjoy games on the beach. 


Programs range from an hour long session for the youngest explorer, to trips on WRWA's skiff to learn about the Westport River or kayaking/paddle boarding for our more advanced participants.  Our summer programs offer children the opportunity to learn science, make friendships and build self-confidence, all while having fun in a relaxed, safe environment.


Programs fill up quickly, so don't miss out. For more information and to register visit our website:

Many Thanks to Volunteer and Editor, Suze Craig

Sally Ann Ledbetter, President, WRWA Board of Directors 


Since 2002, Suze Craig has served the Westport River Watershed Alliance in many capacities from board member, to vice president, and staying involved for nine years as editor of more than 50 issues of WRWA's newsletter, River News. It is with great appreciation on behalf of board and staff, I wish her well with any thing she touches with her creativity. The last issue under her perview was the third quarter issue of 2011.


As of our December 2011 issue, we are going electronic. Please advise WRWA through email or a phone call if you still wish to receive a hard copy of our newsletter. There will be a few available in that mode as we want people to know what we are doing in a media form that suits them.  


Once again, it was with great generosity of time and creative spirit that Suze served WRWA, and we thank her sincerely.  


Development Update - March 2012 


Great News! We surpassed our 2011 Annual Fund goal, raising over $150,000 with plans to build on this fundraising momentum in 2012.


We are excited about upcoming events at the Watershed Alliance including River Day on June 9, with this year's theme being "The Westport River- A Resource for Generations,"and our Summer Gala on August 11. If you are interested in volunteering at either of one of these events or want to get involved please click HERE for a volunteer form


In an effort to go green, save green and stay lean, we are encouraging members to make their donations online  by clicking HERE.  Over the coming months, more of our communication, including membership and annual fund solicitations, will be migrating toward an electronic format as we go green, save green and stay lean in an effort to maximize the impact of each donation.


More developments on development in our April 2012 River News...and thank you for your continued support of our work at the Westport River Watershed Alliance.

Upcoming Events 


WRWA Annual Meeting

Saturday, March 17 ,2012  

1 p.m. 

Westport Grange Hall 
931 Main Road, Westport, MA


Speaker will be:

Nicholas J. Ashbolt, Ph.D. Senior Research Microbiologist
National Exposure Research Laboratory
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, OH, USA


Dr. Nick Ashbolt has graciously agreed to speak at our Annual Meeting this coming Saint Patrick's day. He is one of the most forward thinking experts in waste-water of our time. Dr. Ashbolt would most likely object to our using "waste" in front of water because, as he says, there is no "waste". There are only poorly used natural resources that society must harness. "It's all about money, residuals and resource recovery." That's why we invited him to speak.


To put this in context, Westport recently received the draft Massachusetts Estuary Program (MEP) report from the SMAST program at UMass, Dartmouth. The MEP is a set of criteria we need to meet to clean up our waters. There are old, expensive ways and there are simpler, inexpensive ways to do this. Dr. Ashbolt will talk about these simpler methods and why we should use them for the good of ourselves, our children and the planet.


Don't miss this unique opportunity to learn about the new ways to use our waste... strike that, our resources. Reserve a spot now by calling WRWA 508-636-3016.


Dr Ashbolt has stated that water conservation measures could 'easily' reduce household demand in developed countries by 70 per cent. He cited examples of water-saving devices included dry composting toilets with urine-diversion systems for capture of fertilizer nutrients and compost garden mulch and diverted yellow-water from communities providing nutrients for local agriculture. Alternatively, toilet and food residuals could be transported via a vacuum/pressure (blackwater-only) sewer, maximizing energy recovery potential via anaerobic digestion (to methane then electricity) with residuals providing a rich fertilizer. 'These techniques can be used safely, even in fairly dense urban settings,' said Dr. Ashbolt.


Save the Date for River Day 


Who: Westport River Watershed Alliance (WRWA)


What: River Day


When:  Saturday, June 9, 2012 from 9 AM to 3 PM

  • Family-fun "River Paddle" 


  • Head of Westport Landing (activities, education, exhibitors, music, food, fun)
  • Hix Bridge Landing for the "River Paddle" Kick-off


  • To celebrate WRWA's 35 years of environmental stewardship
  • To learn about the many environmental resources in the watershed
  • To bring the community together to celebrate the special treasure we all share-the Westport River!

Westport Estuaries Report - Public Meeting

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Alice A. Macomber Primary School,

154 Gifford Road, Westport

7-9 p.m.


Westport River Watershed Alliance Annual Meeting

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Westport Grange Hall

931 Main Road, Westport

1-3 p.m.


Community Canidates Night

Tuesday, April 3 ,2012  

Westport High School
19 Main Road, Westport, MA
7 p.m.


Earth Day Beach Cleanups

Saturday, April  21,2012  

10 a.m.

Cherry and Webb/Town Beach, Westport, MA

Volunteers wanted!


Electronics Recycling Day  

April 21, 2012

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Bring your computers, TV's and small electronics  

Location of Event to be determined 


River Day

Saturday, June 9 ,2012  

Head of Westport Landing


WRWA Summer Gala Fundraiser 

Saturday, August 11 ,2012  

Like us on Facebook
Westport River Watershed Alliance
1151 Main Road
Westport, Massachusetts 02790

WRWA Logo 

WRWA's mission is to restore, protect, celebrate, and sustain the natural resources of the Westport River and its watershed which encompasses six towns:  Dartmouth, Fall River, Freetown, and Westport in Massachusetts, and Little Compton and Tiverton in Rhode Island.  WRWA accomplishes its goal of protecting the watershed through education, research, advocacy, and community outreach.