Volunteer of the Month – Steve Silva

Steve Silva at the Water Testing Workshop

Steve Silva is our Volunteer of the month for February. A retired Water Quality Director for the EPA, his passion at TRWA is to raise the water quality in the Watershed to higher and higher standards.

Joe Callahan TRWA president says, “Steve Silva is a tremendous asset and addition to the TRWA organization. He stepped in immediately to assume leadership role in running our successful water quality monitoring program.  It is a natural fit given his experience with the US EPA in the water section.  He is a great resource to the entire watershed and represents TRWA in his tireless work in the Resilient Taunton Watershed Network.  Steve is also currently serving as Secretary for TRWA, and his detailed note taking has meant our meetings have gone smoothly, and well-organized and much more informative. Much thanks to Steve Silva our volunteer of the month and more.”     

Unlike some of the other TRWA volunteers, Steve says he has never lived along a river, and unlike many in TRWA, doesn’t spend much recreational time on a river. While many of our members are looking for beautiful nature shots, he is more often pursuing pictures of algae blooms and slime.

Here’s how you can help Steve keep to raise the quality of the rivers, streams and wetlands of our Watershed. 

  1. Don’t pass up a good algae or slime picture. We want to see them, know where the picture was taken and the date. They help in evaluating the water conditions.
  2. Volunteer for the water quality testing program. By this summer Steve is hoping there may be enough folks vaccinated to do a Saturday morning training session and them sample late summer through October. The program needs a few new volunteers. Keep checking back on Facebook for a starting date. https://savethetaunton.org/get-involved/volunteer-opportunities/ 
  3. Ask questions. If no one at TRWA knows the answer, we may be able to pass you on to the right people to ask.
  4. Be a spotter. We need eyes on the ground. The Taunton River Watershed is the second largest in the state, and we want to hear from as many locations in it as possible. Watch for environmental projects in your own location that affect the watershed. Read the local press. We like unusual pictures and stories of any type too. You never know when you are going to come across an endangered or threatened species.
  5. Join your town or city’s conservation commission or related local group and pass along information about issues you think may concern us.

For all of these email  trwastaff@savethetaunton.org with your pictures, questions and information. Or call 508-828-1101. Someone will get back to you within a few days.

Steve says, “My interest comes from knowing how polluted the Taunton River and many of its tributaries were in the past and seeing the benefit of the cleanup of other once polluted rivers and estuaries like Boston Harbor and the Androscoggin and Presumpscot Rivers. I’d like to see those benefits realized in the Taunton River Watershed.”

He is working hard to make sure TRWA’s progress is well documented. Due to COVID, 2020, water testing was cancelled. However, past results are documented here:


Steve does more for TRWA than water testing. He is the eyes and ears of the advocacy program. He shares information with the board. He attends meetings and represents TRWA at events. Presently he is following efforts to strengthen Massachusetts drought regulations. He is the secretary/clerk, meticulous with his notes, and he is not afraid to take on mundane chores. He and his wife Lucille cleaned and organized the office when TRWA moved in.

Here is what the TRWA board says about him.

Carol Traverse, office manager, “Steve is amazing.  He is so well organized about everything he does.  I’m forever grateful to him and Lucille for cleaning and organizing the TRWA office.  And he is an incredibly kind and understanding person which makes him easy to work with–a perfect fit for the Water Quality Coordinator. He is TRWA’S clerk/secretary who keeps track of everything which is not an easy task.”

Dick Shafer, treasurer: “Steve has been an invaluable volunteer for TRWA, not only for being Secretary, but also leading and training the Water Quality Monitoring program volunteers with Alex Houtzager.  His career at the EPA has also provided us with a knowledgeable response to environmental issues that arise in the watershed and strengthens our advocacy positions on the Clean Water Act”.

Craig Heffernan, vice president: “Steve was one of the first members of TRWA I met when I went to the water quality training. I was lucky to be teamed up with him to do water testing. Learning that Steve was retired from the EPA was particularly great for me because I could ask all the questions about water related conservation. Steve has a great wealth of knowledge of water conservation and protection in the watershed including having the information and experience with wastewater treatment facilities. He is a patient teacher, updating the board on related improvements and active ongoings within the watershed. As secretary he takes diligent notes of the minutes for each board meeting as well as detailed results for the water quality testing each month. Steve is a wonderful asset of TRWA and one of the many reasons why I want to continue as a volunteer for TRWA.”

Sally Spooner, volunteer Facebook/Website writer and photographer: “I can’t say enough about Steve and the kind of knowledge he is sharing with us. Our audience is hungry to learn, and his posts are always popular.  As a TRWA volunteer whose job includes distilling Steve’s extensive scientific knowledge into language everyday people understand, I appreciate his patience. We often speak in different languages, and he is a willing translator. Without the patience of people like Steve, we would be left out of learning about clean water, what it takes to make it that way and what it takes to keep it that way.

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