Annual Taunton River Festival Returns September 12, 2021, 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

The Annual Taunton River Festival
Will return to the Wild and Scenic Taunton River’s Weir Riverfront Park on Sunday, September 12, 2021, 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

Help us make this event a special celebration.

Our fair is admission free, and we will offer a variety of activities for the entire family, including live music, a food court, a craft fair, river activities, education and more.

If you are a school group, service club, community group, church, environmental organization or local business, we invite you to participate. You can:

  • Sponsor an event
  • Sign up for a table
  • Or present an event

We need volunteers too.

If you are interested, please email Director@savethetaunton.org, call (508) 828-1101 or message us on Facebook to volunteer or request an exhibitor (nonprofits) or vendor registration form.

Benefits include:

  • A chance to meet new customers and catch up with regulars you haven’t seen in person recently
  • Postings of business/nonprofit information on Facebook
  • A chance to introduce your nonprofit to potential members or donors
  • The chance to inform the public on how your organization is working to protect the Taunton River and make the watershed more resilient to climate change and how they can help

We are looking forward to meeting out new participants and catching up with those who have participated before.

Come early.  Set up time is 9:00 – 10:00. Table locations (bring your own table) are awarded on first come first served basis.

Any city or state Covid regulations in effect on the day of the event (September 12, 2021), such as distance between exhibit tables or mask requirements, will apply.

 

TRWA Water Quality Monitoring Program for 2021

TRWA is pleased to announce the TRWA Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program will resume on Tuesday, August 10, 2021 this year! Existing and new volunteer monitoring training will be held Saturday, July 31, 2021 at TRWA’s Sweets Knoll State Park Office in Dighton, MA (on Rt 138 just South of the Bristol Aggie traffic light – 1387 Somerset Avenue, Dighton, MA). On July 31st we will have sign-in and an informal get acquainted and Q/ A session from 9:30am to 10:00am and the training will run from 10:00am to Noon. If you want to participate but can’t make the July 31st training date, contact the TRWA office at director@savethetaunton.org and we’ll see if a make-up day is needed.

TRWA volunteers will sample the first Tuesday of the month for the remainder of the sampling season August, September, and October (3 months). Teams take their samples form 2 or 3 locations anytime between 5:00am to 8:00am and drop them off at the Taunton WWTP lab no later than 8:30am. As we have done in the past, and as noted above the refresher sampler/new volunteer training is on the last Saturday morning of the month before sampling begins which is Saturday, July 31, 2021 this year.

August is an important month for water quality monitoring. As the veteran samplers know TRWA teams of volunteers sample 20 locations (4 on the main stem of the Taunton River and 16 locations on tributary rivers/streams) the second Tuesday of each month during our sampling season (normally April through October). We have a MassDEP Quality Assurance Plan approved sampling program. We do 2 duplicates and 2 blanks each month (1 for every 10 samples for Nitrate, Total Phosphorus and Bacteria the most important pollutants we monitor). TRWA monitoring is important because it documents along with MassDEP Mount Hope Bay continuous monitoring the need for upgrading all seven major wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in the watershed to remove nitrogen and for the four WWTPs in the upper freshwaters of the watershed to also remove phosphorus. It also highlights the need across the entire watershed for better stormwater controls for new and existing development to reduce bacteria, nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from stormwater discharges.

TRWA delayed the start of the sampling program to give our volunteers time to obtain their vaccinations so we can be safe working with each other and so we won’t risk bringing the virus to our program partners at the Taunton wastewater treatment plant. For both the training and sampling we are following CDC Guidelines. Those that are fully vaccinated (2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine) can participate normally. Those not fully vaccinated or with a compromised immune system must wear masks and practice social distancing.

We look forward to seeing you at the training session on July 31st. If you are a veteran sampler and your team needs sample bottles you can contact Rick McCormack at the Taunton WWTP lab (508-823-3582) to make arrangements to pick them up or contact Steve Silva the sampling program coordinator (steve124@gmail.com). The TRWA 2021 Standard Operating Procedures guide is on the TRWA website https://savethetaunton.org/ at the monitoring tab as well as our simple one-page sampler instructions sheet, chain of custody form, instructions for filling out sample bottle labels, Google map of sampling locations, and 2021 blank reporting forms which show in the lower section which locations/teams will collect duplicate and blank samples each month. This webpage generally has anything you might want to review concerning the sampling program.

One of the most important things we want to accomplish at the training is to ensure that we have teams of people with at least one veteran sampler ready to cover each sampling location. We will assign new volunteers to teams with veterans for hands-on training and to ease them into the program. If you know anyone who might like to get fresh morning air, knowledge, and be part of an important effort to save our environment, please invite them to the training.

If you are a veteran sampler and are no longer able to participate in the sampling program, please let Steve Silva (steve124@gmail.com) know to help us with planning.

       

      

2021 Sampling Season Update

Hello TRWA Sampling Volunteers and Potential New Volunteers,

I hope this email finds you and your families well.  Happy 2021!  I’m hopeful better times are coming soon.

As you know we cancelled the 2020 sampling program to keep our volunteers and the personnel at the treatment plant safe.  In 2021 we are hoping there will be enough folks vaccinated to do a last Saturday morning of some summer month refresher training session at Sweets Knoll and sample though the later part of the sampling season.  We will contact you as we see how the vaccination program progresses.

We really want to get the program back to normal (April to October sampling) for 2022.  Thanks to your great work, we were fortunate going into 2020 having four prior years with very complete data  from two dry years (2016 and 2017) and two wet years (2018 and 2019). This gives us a pretty good idea that 2020 a hot and dry year was probably much like 2016 and 2017 even though we couldn’t sample.  In 2022 it will be a new story because three large up-river treatment plants Brockton, Bridgewater and Taunton will start to remove nitrogen so we want to have monitoring to start to evaluate the water quality impact of this important change.

We miss seeing you all and appreciate the contribution you make to promote water quality improvement of the Taunton River.  Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.  Also, we always have to add a few samplers each year to expand teams that have lost members because folks have moved away or for other reasons.  When we do restart the program, please consider reaching out to others who may be interested in joining us.

Stay safe!

Best,
Steve

TRWA Submits Comments Requesting Rapid Approval of Taunton WWTF Upgrade Plans

On November 23, 2020 TRWA submitted comments strongly supporting the upgrade of the Taunton Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF). We are requesting rapid approval of the Final Environmental Impact report (FEIR) and loan assistance requests by the City so that the phase 1 total nitrogen (TN) removal schedule of June 30, 2022 is achieved. This date is similar to the scheduled TN removal completion dates for Brockton (4/01/2022) and Bridgewater (5/01/2022).

MassDEP continuous monitoring at two locations in Mount Hope Bay documents summer algae blooms and dissolved oxygen criteria violations which these upgrades are designed to reduce. With completion of the Taunton upgrade 5 watershed WWTFs will have been upgraded for TN removal by the end of June 2022 (Taunton WWTF and all the plants upstream).

In light of the well documented water quality problems caused by nitrogen over-enrichment in the Taunton river estuary, TRWA also strongly requests that EPA and MassDEP re-issue the other 2 remaining watershed WWTFs, Somerset (12 years overdue) and Fall River (15 years overdue) with TN effluent limitations as soon as possible. The TN wasteload allocation for Somerset was included in the Taunton NPDES draft permit fact sheet. Fall River located furthest down-bay may initially be issued with intermediate level TN limits and upgraded with a flexible plant design to allow for modification as needed based on additional bay monitoring. The schedule for Fall River should be integrated with their combined sewer overflow abatement effort so that the most environmentally beneficial work is completed first.

Re-issuance of the Somerset and Fall River permits is necessary to further reduce summer algae blooms and dissolved oxygen criteria violations, achieve the full benefit of the 5 WWTF TN removal upgrades scheduled by end of June 2022 and make the Taunton River watershed more resilient to climate change. Over the months ahead TRWA is planning to petition EPA and MassDEP as well as federal and state political leaders to join us in requesting that these long expired and obsolete CWA permits be replaced. We will be reaching out to our membership and other environmental groups for help with this effort.

A copy of TRWA’s comments may be found at this link.

TRWA Sends Letter to MEPA Supporting Town River Dam Removal

TRWA has sent a letter to the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office (MEPA) supporting removal of the aging Town River Dam in Bridgewater as soon as possible. In its comments TRWA pointed out that with complete deconstruction and removal of the dam, approximately two hundred feet of river channel upstream would be restored to a stream that supports fish passage. The proposed project would reconnect  ten miles of riverine habitat and restore spawning access to Lake Nippenicket. Water quality would improve as a result of the restoration of a free-flowing river.  The proposed project would also eliminate the risk of dam failure and restore stream bank habitat.

Earth Day and Covid-19

Wednesday, April 22, is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and it’s safe to say no one expected we’d be celebrating it indoors during a planet-wide pandemic. In 1970, more than 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day. Once public health authorities say its safe to do so TRWA will resume its many free public events in the watershed. Until then we appreciate the efforts our members are making to follow CDC guidelines and keep each other safe. Thank you for your support of TRWA and each other through this difficult time.

TRWA Takes Strong Stand Opposing Proposed Restaurant on the Shoreline of Lake Nippenicket in Bridgewater

In a letter dated March 14, 2020 the Taunton River Watershed Alliance (TRWA) took a strong position urging the Bridgewater Planning Board to deny a request from Claremont Corporation to amend zoning laws and waive resource area protections on a parcel of land located on the shoreline of Lake Nippenicket in order to allow construction of a restaurant.

TRWA after hearing from many residents of Bridgewater carefully reviewed the proposal and concluded the proposal affects not only our members who are residents of Bridgewater, but the mission of TRWA, which is to protect and restore the watershed’s natural resources for current and future generations, to build and support responsible stewardship of our fragile ecosystems, water quality, forests, farmland, and wetlands; provide opportunities for people to enjoy the river and the watershed’s open space; and be a voice for threatened land and water resources.

TRWA opposes this request because the proposed construction  would harm the water quality in Lake Nippenicket[1] and the ecological communities that inhabit the site and surrounding area. These impacts would occur as a result of earth removal and other work during construction, the rendering of a large portion of the property to impermeable surface, and the discharge of polluted stormwater runoff after the project is completed. Not to mention, this project sets a dangerous precedent for other future potential developments that may be planned within sensitive areas within the Town.

TRWA would like to thank the Bridgewater residents who called this matter to our attention and the many residents who attended the Bridgewater Planning Board Meeting to express their concern about the proposed zoning change.

For more information see our comment letter.

[1] Eutrophication has been recognized as a serious concern in Lake Nippenicket due to its shallow depths.

March 28th Sampler Training Cancelled; TRWA Monitoring Program Suspended

In order to protect our volunteers and their families and following the direction of public health authorities, TRWA is cancelling the March 28th TRWA new and existing volunteer sampler training session we had previously scheduled. We are also suspending our citizen monitoring program which was planned to start on April 14th until further notice.

When we are advised by government and public health authorities that it is safe to do so we will reschedule our training session. Similarly when information from public health authorities and our partners at Veolia indicate that it is safe to do so we will resume our monthly sampling program.

Do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions.

CANCELLED – TO BE RE-SCHEDULED – TRWA Volunteer Monitoring Training Saturday, March 28, 2020, 9:30 AM to Noon

CANCELLED – NEW DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED WHEN AVAILABLE

Come help us make sure our water stays clean!

The Taunton River Watershed Alliance has done water quality testing in the Taunton River and its tributaries since its inception in 1988. The information gathered shows that ongoing efforts to clean up the river are necessary and effective. Each bucket of water pulled up to be tested can have national implications. It already has and must be continued to keep our water clean and our 43 communities informed and accountable.

TRWA currently has 20 sample collection volunteers who work in 10 teams collecting samples from 20 locations from Berkley to Bridgewater the second Tuesday morning of each month from April through October. Volunteers work in teams of 2 to 3 people (to provide back-up coverage for vacations etc.) and each team collects samples from 2 or 3 locations bringing samples back to the Taunton wastewater treatment plant by 8:30 am.

No technical training or education is required just a desire to be part of an important effort with good people who want to improve local water quality. We provide the training, pair new people with folks who are veterans, and explain what the results mean and why they are important.

We are looking for new volunteers to replace some samplers who have moved out of the area, can no-longer volunteer, and to make some of our teams a little bigger. Anyone who thinks they may be interested in becoming one of our guardians of the river should come to our training session on Saturday morning, March 28, 2020, 9:30am – Noon at TRWA’s River Center, Sweets Knoll State Park, 1387 Somerset Avenue, Dighton, MA. There is a lot of information about the monitoring program on the TRWA website. People with questions may also send an email to the volunteer monitoring program coordinator Steve Silva at steve124@gmail.com.

If you know anyone who might be interested in helping us with this effort (friends, neighbors etc.) please invite them to come to the training with you. There is no obligation to volunteer if you come. We will have coffee, juice and some refreshments. You will have a chance to meet our diamond back terrapin (a threatened brackish water turtle) mascot who we have adopted because she can’t be returned to the wild and visit scenic Sweets Knoll State Park.

We are also looking for sponsors for this program so we can continue to pay for the water testing. For more information view our sponsorship sheet or the website.

Read more about the program

October Nitrate, Total Phosphorus and Enterococci Bacteria Results

The October nitrate, total phosphorus, and enterococci results are back from our contract lab and have also been added to the website monitoring data page. These are the last results for the 2019 monitoring season which runs from April through October so we can look at not only the month of October but the year as a whole.

The October results for 2019 are a little worse than October 2018 but looking at the May to October averages for both years they are very similar. Both 2018 and 2019 were relatively similar, wet years providing high wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) dilution. Results for nitrate our most critical water quality parameter because of the impact of excess nitrogen on the ecology of the estuarine portion of the river and Mount Hope Bay look better in 2019 and 2018 (two recent wet years) than 2017 and 2016 (two dry, low river flow years) because of the higher river flow dilution.

We see the highest levels in the upper watershed (locations MAT-01, TWH-01, and CHE-01) reflecting the fact that Brockton and Bridgewater have not completed required upgrades to remove nitrogen yet. Brockton and Bridgewater are scheduled to remove nitrogen in April and May of 2022 respectively. Despite looking better than the more typical dryer summers of 2016 and 2017 the nitrogen levels in the upper watershed were still 3 to 4 times what they should be and levels in the lower river were approximately 1.5 times the EPA and MassDEP water quality criteria targets established for the Taunton River.

A good news story is that the Nemasket River had low nitrate levels all year reflecting the completion of the upgrade of the Middleboro wastewater treatment plant early last year. The Mansfield/Norton/Foxboro nitrogen removal upgrade is scheduled to go on line in early 2020 which should help the Three Mile River.

The most critical upgrades we are looking forward to in order to lower nitrogen levels throughout the river are Taunton, Brockton, and Bridgewater which are required to remove nitrogen by 2022. We are hoping EPA and MassDEP will assure Taunton, Brockton, and Bridgewater comply with their permit schedules to complete their upgrades by 2022 and resume Clean Water Act permitting in the Taunton River watershed by issuing the remaining two major permits Somerset and Fall River with WWTP upgrade schedules.

As mentioned last month we are carefully watching the new enterococci bacteria testing results. As we accumulate more data on this parameter, we will get a better idea of seasonal fluctuations and potential sources.

In a final piece of monitoring news TRWA received MassDEP approval of its Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) on October 2, 2019. TRWA is one of the few citizens volunteer monitoring programs with an approved QAPP which means the Commonwealth can use our data in development of the biennial 303(d) list of Impaired Waters developed by all states every even year pursuant to the Clean Water Act.

We appreciate the hard work and dedication of our volunteers and the support of our TRWA members and donors who make this effort possible!