WRWA River News for November  2016
River News - November 2016
Please Help Us by Contributing to Our Annual Fund
Deborah Weaver, Executive Director 

This year marks 40 years since a group of forward thinking residents raised their voices and said "heck no" to the proposed sewage lagoon for the East Branch. Imagine what our river might be like today if they hadn't formed the Westport River Defense Fund and stopped that project!

Since 1976 we've continued to be that "voice for the River." Here are a few ways we've done that:
  • One of the longest continuous bacteria monitoring water testing data collections in the state.
  • Collaborated with Town officials to secure multiple grants for water management initiatives and to lend technical assistance on reporting to the EPA and DEP.
  • Over 5,000 volunteers have worked with the organization, many for multiple years.
  • Over 50,000 children participating in school based and field study
    programs, many of these children attending Alliance lessons for their entire K-12 schooling.
  • 28 River Day festivals, free for the entire community.
The Alliance today:
  • Has one of the largest memberships of all the Watershed alliances in the state.
  • Has a professional staff with impressive credentials and extensive experience.
  • Engages 2 emerging leaders as Commonwealth Corps members doing a year of service with WRWA. One of our current CC members was a Westport child inspired by the WEP curriculum. Here's what Ryan has to say: "I gained inspiration to learn about the environment and how to protect it. Now, through CC, I can give back to my community and protect what I think is important."
  •  Collaborates with SMAST (the School for Marine Science of UMASS Dartmouth) on a four-year peer reviewed EPA-funded study the use of oysters to remove nutrients in Cockeast Pond to improve its health.
None of this would be possible without your support. We are fortunate to have remarkable members who believe in our mission, care about the future of our watershed, and are willing to donate generously. We hope your Annual Fund support will continue again this year.

Update on Cockeast Pond Oyster Experiment with SMAST's Coastal Systems Program
Roberta Carvalho, Science Director
Counting small oysters from floating bags to determine mortality. Then quantify growth by volume and mass.

The Westport River Watershed Alliance (WRWA) is working with the Coastal Systems Program (CSP) UMass Dartmouth (SMAST) on a project funded by a grant from the US EPA Southeast New England Program for Coastal Watershed Restoration (see October's River News for more info). The UMass Dartmouth initiative, led by Dr. Brian Howes and Dr. Roland Samimy at SMAST's Coastal Systems Program, is utilizing the Westport River and Cockeast Pond as a natural laboratory to measure how oysters improve water clarity and potentially reduce elevated nitrogen levels which destroy fish and other marine wildlife habitats. Oysters get a lot of attention because they filter water. This can lead to the assumption that oysters are constantly removing nutrients from the water, but not all of the nutrients that oysters filter stay in their tissues. Many get deposited into the water or sediment as waste. While scientists have studied and quantified the removal of nutrients through harvested oysters, little is known about what happens to nutrients in waste and associated transformations that occur in the sediments exposed to oyster detritus.
Measuring and weighing larger oysters from bottom racks to determine growth before sinking racks in deeper water for the winter
Oysters' ability to improve water quality by filtration has been well known, but many related questions remain. Such as, does oyster filtration always lead to nitrogen removal in nearby sediments? How much nitrogen is removed, and under what conditions? Do wild oysters have the same amount of nitrogen as those raised in aquaculture, and does this vary by location? And, can oysters' work to remove nitrogen count toward nutrient reduction goals set forth in the TMDL (total maximum daily load)?
How do oysters remove nitrogen? Oysters are filter feeders; they remove particles from the water that contain nitrogen, primarily in algae (phytoplankton), and use it to build their tissues and shells or move it to bottom sediments in their biodeposits (pseudofeces). Benthic bivalves are important contributors of nitrogen (usually in the form of ammonium, NH4+) to both subtidal and intertidal systems. Once the nitrogen is in the sediments, microbes may break it down and release nitrogen gas into the atmosphere, a process called denitrification, removing nitrogen from the estuary. Als
Counting oysters live versus dead in bottom rack
o, all the nitrogen that is in any oysters that are harvested is removed from the system as well.
In September over 30,000 oysters were placed at four different locations in in Cockeast pond in 15 floating bags and 4 bottom cages, constructed of high quality, industrial grade vinyl coated wire. SMAST scientists have been checking on the oysters and after two months in the pond, they seem to be surviving well. Oysters in racks positioned in the lower west and east section of the pond, closest to the herring run were faring the best. The racks in the upper west and the mid-east sections of the pond showed some mortality.  Survival/mortality was quantified at each location and a sub sample of oysters from each bottom cage was measured, weighed and brought back to SMAST to be analyzed for nitrogen content in the meat and shells.   With the winter fast approaching, all the sets of racks and bags were sunk in 1.3 meters of water near the center of the pond. Next spring the full scale experiment will begin and involve around 500,000 oysters over approximately 2/3 of an acre of the 90+ acre pond (less than 1% of the total pond area).
WRWA is pleased to work with CSP scientists. Broadly, we are interested in the ecological services the oysters provide. Additionally, this research on oysters may help decision makers and citizens across the southeastern Massachusetts region understand the role of oyster reefs as natural capital, thus opening the door to greater investments in nature-based restoration techniques. This is more than just revitalizing an industry, it is the inherent ecological values of the oysters, including improving water quality and protecting shorelines we promote while also maintaining the unique cultural dimension of the region.  
River Center Project Moving Along
Architect's model of new River Center view from Old County Road

Engineering plans for the composting toilet and gray water treatment systems are nearly complete. Our team will be presenting the plans to the Board of Health within the next several weeks to obtain the required Title V permit. We will also be submitting a formal application (we've already met informally) to the Westport Conservation Commission for alterations in the riverfront area.

As you can see from the photo, we have made substantial progress with the final design details. Our architects are completing construction plans and we predict that the New Year will see the project well underway.
Looking for Artists for Oars and Paddles Art Show

We have given out a good collection of donated oars and paddles for our winter art event! We still have several left for willing artists, waiting to be picked up and painted. Interested artists please call us at 508-636-3016 or email Steve at outreach@wrwa.com.
The New 2017 WRWA Calendars Are In!

WRWA is happy to present the 2017 photo calendar. The beautiful photos taken within the Westport River Watershed were provided by contest winners Mark Goulding, Greg Stone, Amelia Tripp, Barry French, Betsy Szel, Laurie Wenham, Laurie Marinone, and David Cole.

The calendar has accurate tide graphs for the entire year and is on sale for $20.

Photo Calendars are available at WRWA headquarters, on line at www.westportwatershed.org,and at Lees Market, Partners Village Store, Country Woolens and AS Deams.
Chris Smither and Dar Williams will headline 2017 Summer Concert  
Mark your calendar for our annual summer concert at the Westport Rivers Vineyard. Dar Williams and Chris Smither will be performing for us on Saturday, July 15, 2017. These well-known and profoundly talented singer-songwriters will be on-stage on the beautiful Westport Rivers landscape for an outdoor evening concert to benefit the Watershed Alliance.

Like last summer's very successful Tom Rush show, this year's concert is presented with The Narrows Center for the Arts and sponsored in part by Westport Rivers and Buzzards Bay Brewing.

Tickets are $40 for WRWA members, $50 for non-members, and will be $60 the day of the show. Don't wait too long-last year's show was a sell out, with over 600 guests enjoying the great music and pastoral setting on a beautiful summer evening.

Tickets will be available on the Narrows website at www.narrowscenter.org, and at the WRWA office and website www.westportwatershed.org, or by phone 508-636-3016.

From left, Lauren Arruda (WRWA) Jeannine Louro (BBC),  Ryan Palmer (WRWA) and Mandy Bonilla (BBC).
Commonwealth Corps Members organize a successful clean up at Gooseberry

Twenty-five volunteers, many from Westport High School, joined WRWA and the Buzzards Bay Coalition for a Gooseberry Island clean-up on Saturday, November 5. We filled two pick-ups with trash and debris. The event was organized by Commonwealth Corps Service Members from the Watershed Alliance and Buzzards Bay Coalition.

The Watershed Alliance hosts three shore clean-up events annually in the spring and fall.
Creature Feature:
Red Maple (Acer rubrum L.)
Ryan Palmer, Commonwealth Corps Educator

Red Maples are a species of deciduous tree found in a diverse range of different habitats and conditions. While the Red Maple will thrive in woodlands, this tree can be found in higher altitudes where it is dry and rocky. Also, it is common to find them growing in low lying areas where the water does not drain that well, or wetlands. They have a great ability to adapt to different types of soils, levels of moisture and altitudes. This is why Red Maples are found all over Eastern North America and are the most abundant and widespread deciduous tree in New England.

To identify a Red Maple, first look at the bark. Younger trees have smooth, light grey
bark and older trees have dark grey, rough bark. They typically grow to a height of 60
to 90 feet and live no longer than 150 years. The tree has different pigments in their stems, buds, seeds, flowers, and in the fall are responsible for the vibrant red leaves
that dominate the foliage.

Red Maples are also known as Swamp Maples because they can live in wetlands. They have adapted by growing their roots parallel to the surface of the soil to survive the
seasonal flooding. This wooded forest dominated by Red Maples is a valuable ecosystem is called a Red Maple Swamp and holds a variety of important species. Reptiles and amphibians live in the bodies of water to feed and reproduce. Mammals use the thick underbrush to hide, for a food source and to be close to a water source. Many species of birds use the canopy for their homes and for protection. The wetlands are also important because they help with flood control by storing water and clean water of pollutants from runoff.

The main threat to Red Maples Swamps starts with upland development that diverts the water runoff to another source other than the low lying wetlands. Road construction and the conversion of forests into cranberry bogs is also a threat to this ecosystem. We must value this ecosystem because it controls flooding, improves our water quality and boosts the diversity of wildlife in our region. And locally, we can find wooded wetlands in many places; and if you would like to visit one, check out the Dunham's Brook Conversation Area in Westport or Little River Reserve in Dartmouth.

Save Your Lees Market Receipts
Lees Market gives 1% of the receipt total to the community charities.  If you shop at Lees, please save your slips for us, the proceeds goes toward all our programs and projects that protect the River.  Lees Market grocery receipts can be dropped off at our office.  Thank you for helping and shopping at Lees!
Corporate Sponsors

MCC Logo

F.L. Tripp and Sons
Lees Oil Service

Westport River Watershed Alliance | 508-636-3016 | http://westportwatershed.org

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