September, 2019
Moving Day!
Workers are now putting the finishing touches on the new River Center. We will be moving in during the week of September 23.

It has been a long process, but we are very enthusiastic about moving into our new headquarters! And, we look forward to welcoming all of our friends and supporters to see the newly renovated building.

Here are some of the highlights: The building is very energy efficient, with high R value insulation, and has LED lighting throughout. There will be solar panels on the roof, which will provide over 90% of our electrical needs. Composting toilets are installed to minimize impact on River water quality. We have reused much of the wood salvaged from the old attic.

The first floor "public space" will feature aquariums with local species, and a special Seahorse tank. Local artist Barbara Healy is painting the floor with a map of the Westport River watershed. There will be various audio-visual attractions throughout the year, as well as information and illustrations about the watershed and opportunities and challenges that we are addressing.

The final phase will be the grading and landscaping of the landing area, which is underway by a contractor hired by the Town of Westport and funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Seaport Economic Council.
Open House Saturday, October 19
We will have our Open House celebration on Saturday, October 19, from 1 - 3 pm . Feel free to drop by and visit. The River Center is at 493 Old County Road in Westport.

We are going to be launching a volunteer docent program to welcome visitors to the River Center. Email outreach@wrwa.com if you are interested in volunteering.

We are so grateful to all our generous donors, our general contractor Page Building Construction Company, DSK Architects and Planners, and the talented workers who have worked so hard all this year to bring us near to completion of this wonderful project! We are very close to our fundraising goal. Please help us cross the finish line with a donation in any amount.
Summer Gala
Our Summer Gala was a fun evening of great food, drink, and music with picture-perfect summer weather.

Over 500 guests came to enjoy the view of the ocean and the Harbor, feel the summer breeze, and check out the interesting silent auction.

Thank you to all who attended, and to all those who donated the fabulous auction items.

The Gala is our most important fundraiser of the year, supporting our science and education programs. We're glad that it is also an enjoyable evening for so many of our supporters.


Summary of Summer Water Monitoring
Bacteria Concentrations Elevated This Summer
Roberta Carvalho, Science Director

The Westport River Watershed Alliance has been sampling water quality at 19 sites along the Westport River since the 1990’s. This program monitors the river every week from the beginning of June to the end of August. Bacteria levels can change by the day, each week’s results refer only to the morning on which the samples were taken. This summer we saw elevated levels of fecal coliform, especially during wet weather events. Bacteria levels are typically elevated during wet weather events, a good precaution to take includes avoiding swimming right after a heavy rain. During dry weather, bacteria levels are typically low and the entire River is usually considered safe for swimming.

Fecal coliform bacteria testing is used by regulators and scientists to assess surface waters for recreational use, shell fishing, and potability (ability to be safely consumed). Federal regulations stipulate maximum allowable numbers of these bacteria for various uses. If fecal coliform counts are high (over 200 colonies per 100 ml of water sample) in the river or stream, there is a greater chance that pathogenic organisms are also present. A person swimming in such water has a greater chance of getting sick from swallowing disease-causing organisms, or from pathogens entering the body through cuts in skin, the nose, mouth, or the ears. Diseases and illnesses such as typhoid fever, hepatitis, gastroenteritis, dysentery, and ear infections can be contracted in waters with high fecal coliform counts.
Electronics Recycling Day October 2

How quickly our devices become outdated!
Wondering what to do with your old computers, printers, monitors and other obsolete electronic gear? Over the past few years, we have collected over 30,000 pounds of old electronics on our Electronics Recycling days, and once again we are partnering with IndieCycle for this valuable community service.

Join us on WEDNESDAY, OCT 2, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Westport Town Hall parking lot. All the materials are handled by certified recyclers, who remove valuable metals and plastics to be used in new manufacturing.

Items accepted : Computers, laptops, monitors, televisions, routers, PDA's, cell phones, mice, keyboards, inkjet printers, plastic speakers, toner cartridges, CD/DVD players, radios, network equipment, wires, stereos, telephones, microwaves, small household appliances, and auto/marine batteries, and battery back-ups. 
A $10 disposal fee applies to each TV, monitor, large wooden-boxed speaker ($5 for small), laser-jet printer, air conditioner, dehumidifier, and other coolant containing device.

Not accepted : Light bulbs, household batteries, fire/carbon monoxide detectors, tapes/disks, glass, broken TV tubes, Styrofoam or any hazardous waste materials. 
For more information:  www.indiecycle.com  or email  i ndiecycle@gmail.com.     

Call for Volunteers for Coastsweep Beach Clean-Up
October 5

WRWA will be hosting the annual COASTSWEEP beach clean- up on Saturday, October 5. Volunteers are needed to help identify and remove trash and debris from the Westport oceanfront 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.

The problems associated with marine debris extend well beyond aesthetics. Sea birds, seals, and other animals can be choked, starved, or poisoned when they mistake debris for food. A particular problem is when sea turtles die after swallowing clear plastic bags when they mistake them for jellyfish. Animals can also become entangled in nets, bags, ropes, and other trash, often resulting in drowning, suffocation, loss of mobility, or starvation. Beachgoers may injure themselves on items such as pieces of glass, wood, or metal while swimming or walking on the sand. Marine debris also poses a threat to navigation as propellers can become jammed with fishing line and boats can be damaged by colliding with large pieces of debris - and plastic can clog cooling intakes.
For more information, and to sign up, call us at 508-636-3016 or email outreach@wrwa.com. 
 
Welcome Commonwealth Corps Service Members
WRWA has been selected as one of 16 Commonwealth Corps host site partners in the 2019-2020 program year. Administered by the Massachusetts Service Alliance, the Commonwealth Corps is a state-funded service internship program which engages Massachusetts residents of all ages and backgrounds in service to strengthen communities, address unmet community needs, and increase volunteerism. Serving a 10.5-month term, Corps members provide direct service; build capacity; and recruit, organize, and mobilize additional volunteers, thus building a grassroots movement of volunteers dedicated to service. 
 
WRWA will host two Commonwealth Corps members to help strengthen and expand the Watershed Education Program (WEP). The WEP program teaches over 2,000 local students each year, teaching about the importance of keeping our river clean. Our two service members for this year are James Austin and Jessica Mattos.
 
James Austin is a recent graduate from Goshen College, with a Master’s degree in Environmental Education. He grew up exploring beaches and climbing trees around his Massachusetts neighborhood, which fostered an early appreciation of nature. James especially enjoys wetlands, tide pool, and forest ecosystems. He is excited to spend his year of service with the Commonwealth Corps as one of WRWA’s Environmental Educators - to enjoy life found in both land and water, to help maintain several of WRWA’s projects, and to teach the community how to be good stewards of the environment.

Jess Mattos is a recent graduate from UMass Dartmouth with a degree in Sociology and Anthropology. Having grown up in the area, Jess spent her summers kayaking on the Westport River, visiting Horseneck Beach, and exploring the towns around her, which all established her appreciation for the outdoors. She is looking forward to starting her year of service with the Commonwealth Corps as an Environmental Educator at WRWA and getting involved in teaching students about the River and how to keep it healthy. 
 
Since its inception, over 1,000 Commonwealth Corps members have served, focusing on areas such as community development, health services, afterschool or summer programs, and volunteer recruitment and management, and directly benefiting more than 600,000 individuals. Massachusetts is the only state in the country to have a service corps program focused solely on state residents. “We are very proud to be able to provide Commonwealth Corps members to 16 worthy organizations this year because we know their ability to meet their mission will be greatly enhanced by their members,” said Emily Haber, CEO of MSA. “In addition, we are excited for the Commonwealth Corps members who will be selected to serve at these highly effective organizations. Experience has shown us that they will each have an extremely transformative year.”
 
From August 2019 through June 2020, these Commonwealth Corps members will serve in a full-time or half-time capacity in the focus areas of Economic Opportunity/Workforce Development, Education, Health/Nutrition, or Youth Development/Violence Prevention. The program has a dual focus: members’ impact in their organizations and communities as well as their own professional growth and development.
Town of Westport offers low interest loans for septic system repairs
The Westport Board of Health is pleased to announce the availability of low interest loans to Westport homeowners who need to upgrade a failed septic system or cesspool. A Betterment Agreement between the Town and an eligible homeowner may be used for all costs necessary to repair or replace a failed septic system including: a. renovating the existing system; b. hooking-up to existing sewer lines, where available; or c. replacing traditional septic systems with an approved Title 5 alternative system.

The Community Septic Management Program is funded through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Clean Water Trust Fund. The Program is implemented by the Board of Health. The money is available to qualifying homeowners for a period of 20 years. The Board of Health recently voted to lower the interest rate (from 5%) on this next round of the septic loan program to make it more advantageous for Westport homeowners faced with expensive repairs. The interest rate for upgrading a standard septic system is now 4%. The interest rate for installing an enhanced nitrogen removal system is 1.5%. Enhanced nitrogen removal systems prevent nitrogen contamination of drinking water supplies, ponds and the Westport River. Monies can be borrowed to cover all aspects of the process (engineering, soil testing, permit and administrative fees, and construction). Homeowners obtain the estimates and choose the contractors. The normal Board of Heath review and permitting process is still required.

There is no credit check needed, but all municipal accounts (real estate taxes, water bill, etc.) must be paid and up to date to be eligible for a loan. The homeowner pays back the loan in the form of a betterment placed as an additional line item on the real estate tax bill twice a year over a 20 year period. To start the application process or answer any questions, please contact the Program Administrator, Nelia Williams at williamsn@westport-ma.gov or 508-636-1035. 
Creature Feature - "Mermaid's Purse"
by Jess Mattos, Commonwealth Corps Educator
Have you ever been walking at the beach and seen a black pod, with horns and sometimes long tendrils at each corner. Its texture is described as leathery and tough. Maybe you thought that it was seaweed? Some people call it a “Mermaid’s Purse.”

While it may look like a type of seaweed, it’s actually an egg case for skates and sharks. Skates are related to sharks and rays, and look very similar to rays. Some sharks birth their babies, but other sharks, and all skates, release their embryos in egg cases.

Parents end their care when the egg case is released from the body. The baby shark or skate relies on the tough, leathery exterior of the egg case as its only source of protection. Females lay egg cases onto the seafloor. The tendrils at the corners of the cases allows the egg cases to anchor to seaweeds and other things like rocks underwater.

Each egg case typically contains only one baby, which looks like a tiny version of the adult. Growth inside of these cases can take anywhere from a few months to over a year.  Usually when egg cases wash up on the beach they are empty, but if the case feels like it has something inside, you can shine a light on it to reveal its contents. Empty cases wash up or are blown to the high tide line at the beach. There are more washed up on the beach after a storm, because of the higher winds and waves from the ocean.

Predators that eat the egg cases are a major source of loss. Generally being eaten by bigger fish and other animals is a leading cause of death for developing fish eggs, due to their high nutritional value. 
Thanks to everyone who renewed their WRWA Membership for 2019. If you haven't renewed yet, now would be a great time! Just click on the link above, or send your donation to WRWA
PO Box 3427, Westport, MA 02790.
Thank You to our Corporate Sponsors