River News - September 2016
It was a busy and wonderful summer!
Our water sampling and nutrient sampling programs were in full swing with a dedicated group of volunteers, and our summer education programs were full, with interested and enthusiastic kids learning about our beautiful, living watershed with Shelli and our summer interns Kate and Sara.
Our July 16th 40th Anniversary Celebration Concert with Tom Rush at the Westport Rivers Winery was a sell-out, and a big success. It was a beautiful evening at the vineyard, and Tom Rush's show was entertaining and moving. He never sounded better! Check out our Facebook page for photos. Thanks to our sponsors, Lafrance Hospitality and Andy Paige Style, m
er of the Girly Go Garter, and to our co-presenters The Narrows Center for the Arts, Westport Rivers and Buzzards Bay Brewing.
Our Summer Gala at the Charlton Estate at Westport Harbor drew over 500 guests. Music by the Lois Vaughan Trio, great food from Wilhelmina's Catering, The Back Eddy, and Fromaggio Kitchen, wine and beer from Lees Market and Westport Rivers helped make the evening perfect from start to finish. Thanks to all the volunteers and committee members who worked s
o hard preparing for and working at the event! Photos on our Facebook page.
Finally, Livingston Taylor performed at our annual concert with the Westport Land Conservation Trust at Town Farm. Over 400 people filled the sloping lawn on a sunny Saturday evening to enjoy the music and storytelling by Livingston, who still performs regularly around New England and teaches at Berklee College of Music in Boston. We are grateful to all those who attended, and to the WLCT volunteers for helping to make the day a success.
Fall is here, and most of the celebrations are over as we continue our important work at WRWA. Thanks to you, our members, for your support. We have some great events coming up,
including our annual COASTSWEEP beach clean-up on September 17, our Electronics Recycling Day on October 12, and another walk at Boiling Spring in the Copicut area of the Watershed on October 15. Join us! And please continue to check River News, our web page and Facebook page for updates on issues, events and news!
Streams Dry - Drought Throughout Region
|Angeline Brook Extreme Low Flow Conditions Aug 2016
As you have probably noticed, Massachusetts is currently suffering from a drought. Lawns are brown and streams have dried up. Typically in our region during the months of June-August, rainfall totals are near 12.05 inches (according to U.S. climate data). This summer the three month total for summer precipitation was 4.58 inches (recorded at WRWA's office weather station). As of August 1, 2016: Following five continuous months of unusually dry weather, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton has declared a Drought Warning for the Central and Northeast regions, a Drought Watch for the Connecticut River and Southeast Massachusetts and a Drought Advisory for Western Massachusetts and Cape Cod and the Islands. The declaration was the result of a recommendation from the Drought Management Task Force and will remain in effect until water levels return to normal in the affected regions. According to Secretary Beaton from the MA Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA):
- Dry conditions have continued for the past 5 months. The drought declaration levels will remain in place until water levels return to normal.
- Streams are seeing low to historic low flows, as are groundwater levels.
- There has been a strong regional response to the drought including intensified monitoring, increased assessments of impacts, increased coordination between local and state agencies, increased education for water conservation tips, all public water suppliers have been contacted and guidance to asking for an emergency declaration has been provided, a Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) internal taskforce has been developed to assist farmers with the drought and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has been tracking the impacts of the drought on recreation.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) is also taking actions:
- DAR is collecting information on the impact of the drought in terms of environmental, economic and agricultural impacts
- UMass is completing its survey on farmers that have lost 30% or more of their crops due to the drought to see if they can lobby for USDA to provide them a low interest loan option to recuperate their losses.
- Massachusetts residents should buy local to support these farmers.
|Angeline Brook during past normal flow conditions
Here in Westport there are no regulatory restrictions - but we can all conserve water. Here are some tips:
Stop watering your lawn during drought conditions: Most lawns can survive extended dry periods without watering - they will turn brown, but will revive once the rain returns.
If you water your lawn, water only as needed: Frequent light watering can actually weaken your lawn by encouraging shallow roots that are less tolerant of dry periods. Water your lawn only as needed, generally no more than once or twice a week. A good test is to walk across the lawn. If the grass springs back up, it does not need to be watered.
Timing is critical for lawn watering: The best time to water your lawn is early morning (4 to 6 AM). Avoid watering at mid-day to prevent high evaporation and sun-burned grass.
Use shut-off nozzles on hoses and automatic shut-off devices on irrigation systems:
Unattended hoses can use 10 gallons or more per minute. Use shut-off nozzles to save water. Also, if you have an in-ground irrigation system, use a rain shut-off device that prevents the system from operating during rainstorms.
Capture and reuse rainwater: Use cisterns or rain barrels to capture rainwater from downspouts for use in your yard. A lid, mesh fabric or several drops of baby oil on the surface will prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
Keep your blades sharp and high: Keep your mower blades sharp to prevent tearing of grass and raise your lawn mower's blade to 2 1/2". Longer grass provides shade for the roots and helps reduce water loss.
Use plants that need less water: There are many varieties of low water use plants that can withstand dry summers and that actually thrive in drier soil.
Plan and design your garden for efficient outdoor watering: Be aware of the various shade and moistures zones in your yard and plan your gardens and plantings accordingly.
Mulch to keep roots cool and moist: Mulch can serve as a ground cover that reduces water evaporation from the soil while reducing the number of weeds that compete for soil moisture.
River Center Update
We are in the final stages of reviewing and responding to the order of conditions from the Zoning Board of Appeals for final approval, as our River Center project inches forward. We anticipate they will close the hearing and vote affirmatively on September 22.
Our next step will be to bring our design plans for the composting toilet and greywater recirculation systems to the Board of Health. The designs have been created by SITEC Engineering.
This project has been progressing slowly, but we are please to be moving ahead. More details coming in the October River News.
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, Batty French, Betsy Szel, Laurie Wenham, Laurie Marinone, and David Cole.
Photo Calendars are available at WRWA headquarters, on line at www.westportwatershed.org and at local retailers.
WRWA completes another successful summer science season!
The Westport River Watershed Alliance hosted our 19th 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 learn about the plants of the dunes, local shellfish, flounder, puffer fish, octopus 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.
This year the Watershed Alliance partnered with the Westport Cultural Council to offer 7 scholarships to local Westport students to join our summer science programs. Students in grades 1st-4th submitted essays about the things they would like to learn about that live in the Westport River. Students who had exemplary essays were given a free week to attend WRWA's summer science programs. Since there were so many wonderful essays this year, the reviewing committee also decided to award second place winners with a discounted week of the summer program. Students wrote in their essays of wanting to learn more about the birds, fish and crabs that have interested them through the years. The students should be very proud of their creative work. Twenty one students submitted essays and the winners to this year's essay contest are:
1st place Cash Flannery & 2nd place Jake Nunes
1st place Addie Pimentel & 2nd place Molly Bell
1st place Emma Hathaway & 2nd place Hannah Niles
- 1st place Brianna Cuiellier
The essay contest was made possible through generous funding from the Westport Cultural Council.
The Westport Cultural Council works to foster quality cultural programs and activities that bring the community together to create, share, and inspire. With funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Helen E. Ellis Charitable Trust, the Council awards grants to support programs in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences.
We would also like to thank the Westport Yacht Club for letting the summer programs use their indoor space during rainy days and Osprey Sea Kayak for leading our kayaking/paddle boarding programs. Great job and thank you to our interns for the summer Sara Canuel & Kate Massoud and our leaders in training: Aidan Corey, Erin Brisebois and Riley Gavriluk. See everyone next summer.
Electronics Recycle - October 12
How quickly our technologies 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 many thousands of pounds of old electronics on our Electronics Recycling days, and once again we are partnering with IndieCycle for this important community service.
Join us on WEDNESDAY, OCT 12, from 9 to 11 a.m. at our headquarters at 1151 Main Road. All the materials are handled by certified recyclers, who remove valuable metals and plastics to be used in new manufacturing.
Items accepted at no charge
: computers, laptops, tablets, cell phones, mice and keyboards, printers, toner cartridges, CD/DVD players, radios, network equipment, wires, stereos, speakers, telephones, VHS tapes, microwaves, small household appliances and batteries of any size or type.
$10 DISPOSAL FEE for all printers, TV's & monitors, mini-fridges, air conditioners, dehumidifiers and any other appliances containing chemical coolants.
Not accepted: light bulbs, single use batteries, or any hazardous materials such as paint or broken TV tubes.
Oars and Paddles Needed!
We are already looking forward to our annual winter arts event! Next year, we will be trying something different from our
Buoy The Winter Blues
show. Artists have decided they would like to paint and decorate old oars and paddles, so we are looking for donations from our members and people in the area. Please check the shed, garage and the boathouse for wooden oars and paddles no longer needed and drop them off at our office at 1151 Main Road, or call us at 508-636-3016 for information.
Westport River Watershed Alliance Welcomes Commonwealth Corps Member
Applications being accepted for second open position
The Westport River Watershed Alliance announces it has been chosen to be one of the 18 Commonwealth Corps Host Site Partners for the second year. Administered by the Massachusetts Service Alliance, the Commonwealth Corps engages Massachusetts residents of all ages and backgrounds in service and capacity building to strengthen communities, address unmet community needs, and increase volunteerism.
The Westport River Watershed Alliance is hosting one Commonwealth Corps member to help strengthen and expand its Watershed Education Program (WEP). The program teachers more than 2,000 local students in grades K-12 each year about the importance of keeping the Westport River clean, and the healthy inter-relationship of our waters, soils, plants, animals and people. It also works with high school volunteers and encourages family involvement in outreach programs.
This year's Commonwealth Corps Service Member is Ryan Palmer, a Westport native who is a product of the Watershed Education Program himself. He recently graduated from Bridgewater State University with a degree in Geography. The WEP helped inspire his interests in the environment and reasons for wanting to help protect it. He enjoys his time outdoors - either by kayaking, hiking or lying in his hammock. This year to hopes to inspire local students in the same way he was inspired.
Since its inception, over 900 Commonwealth Corps members have served in the program throughout the state, providing 580,000 hours of service in areas such as community development, health services, benefits screening, afterschool or summer programs, and volunteer recruitment and management, and directly benefiting over 590,000 individuals.
Commonwealth Corps members serve 10.5 months in a stipended full-time half-time or capacity with one of 18 selected host site partners in the focus of Economic Opportunity/Workforce Development, Education, Health/Nutrition, or Youth Development, from August 15, 2016 through June 24, 2017.
One service position is still available with WRWA, and applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis, so immediate applications are encouraged and can be submitted to WEP@WRWA.com. This is a good opportunity, particularly for recent graduates looking for entry-level and resume-building experience with a well established environmental organization.
The Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA), established in 1991, is a private, nonprofit organization that serves as the state commission on community service and volunteerism, and supports programs like AmeriCorps and Commonwealth Corps that incorporate service and volunteerism as effective strategies to address the pressing needs in the Commonwealth. To learn more about MSA's role across the state, visit
Coastsweep Beach Clean Up
We are having our annual Coastsweep beach clean-up on Saturday, September 17th
Volunteers are needed to help identify and remove trash and debris from the Westport beaches from 10:00 a.m. to noon.
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. Volunteers are invited to meet at the Town Beach parking lot on Cherry and Webb Lane at 10:00 a.m. 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.For more information, and to sign up, contact the Westport River Watershed Alliance at 508.636.3016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!