Celebrate Earth Day with a Guided Walk

Saturday, April 30, 2022,  (Rain Date Saturday, May 7, 2o22):   Woodward Forest, Norton MA   1:00pm-2:30pm

TRWA volunteers will lead an easy walk through Woodward Forest managed by the Land Preservation Society of Norton. We will walk through various habitat, stopping along the way to look at signs of wildlife. The trail will lead us to the Three Mile River which flows into the Taunton River. Great for children, though not stroller friendly. Please no pups. Restrooms not available.

Cost: Member- Free, Non-member- $5

Meeting Place:  Forest entrance, located between 4 & 5 Gateway Lane off Old Taunton Ave. Parking available along Gateway Lane.

Attendee Limit: 15;   Pre-registration required by 4pm, Friday, April 29th

To register call (508) 828-1101 or email director@savethetaunton.org


Event: Town River Restoration Project, Bridgewater

APRIL 19 – 10:00 – 11:30 AM

Join a walk and talk event with handouts during school vacation week. Children welcome! Learn about the Town River Restoration Project and explore the site.

Program led by Kristopher M. Houle, P.E., Senior Ecological Restoration Engineer.  Parking is at the entrance to the Bridgewater Highway Dept at 151 High St, Bridgewater, MA 02324.


Event: Native Plant Gardening

APRIL 14 – 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Lakeville Public Library

4 Precinct St. Lakeville, MA

Learn from Martha “Mike” Schroeder, master gardener with decades of experience. She has a slide presentation on the basics of native plant gardening which will be followed by a question-and-answer period.

Fully handicap accessible


Restart of TRWA Water Quality Monitoring Program

TRWA is pleased to announce the TRWA Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program will resume on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 this year! Existing and new volunteer monitoring training will be held Saturday, March 26, 2022 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 March 26th 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 March 26th 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 second Tuesday of the month for the sampling season April through October (7 months). Teams take their samples from 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, March 26, 2022 this year.

During 2022 all five wastewater treatment plants up stream of Somerset are required to start removing nitrogen making this year an important one for water quality monitoring. As the veteran samplers know TRWA teams’ 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. We have a MassDEP Quality Assurance Project 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). We do 2 duplicates (no blanks) for dissolved oxygen, and pH/TSS. TRWA monitoring is important because it documents 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.

We delayed the start of the sampling program last year to give our volunteers time to obtain their vaccinations. We encourage our volunteers to obtain their booster vaccinations if they have not already done so. Until we see how things are going with the virus this spring wearing a mask at the training and when dropping off samples at the Veolia lab is recommended.

I look forward to seeing you at the training session on March 26th . Our 2022 Standard Operating Procedures guide is unchanged from the 2021 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 2022 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 assure 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. We always need new volunteers to replace folks who have moved away and to build up our teams to make sure we have coverage for vacations etc. 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.


TRWA Posts 2021 Sampling Results

TRWA has posted the 2021 sampling results to the website. We want to thank all our sampling volunteers for a very successful monitoring program year after the pandemic shut down for 2020 and the first 4 months of 2021! Our team sampled all 20 sampling sites each month and collected the 2 Quality Assurance (QA) and Duplicate samples along with the QA Blanks each month! We also want to thank our partner Rick McCormack at the Veolia Taunton treatment plant for all his great help getting the program successfully restarted.

As you know river flow was very high each time we sampled resulting in a lot of pollutant dilution. Despite this we saw high nitrogen in the Matfield and Upper Taunton Rivers reflecting the fact that Brockton is not scheduled to begin to remove nitrogen until 4/1/2022. Phosphorus levels were elevated in the Town River below Bridgewater. Unfortunately while Bridgewater is scheduled to remove nitrogen by 5/1/2022 they have until 5/1/2027 to remove phosphorus. The City of Taunton is behind in their nitrogen upgrade schedule. The last we were advised, Taunton was expecting to complete Phase 1 June 2022 and Phase 2 December 2022.

As would be expected during wet weather bacteria levels were elevated but we are also using the Commonwealth’s new more sensitive bacterial indicator (enterococci) which is more sensitive than the indicator used in the past (fecal coliform). As a result of it being new we don’t have much prior year data to compare it to. Two urban rivers the Three Mile and Mill Rivers showed relatively encouraging bacteria results compared to other rivers sampled.

Again we thank our sampling team members so much for their commitment to the environment! We look forward to seeing them at our 2022 sampling refresher training on the last Saturday morning in March 2022 (3/26/2022), the month before we are planning to start the program in 2022. We currently have 19 samplers on our 9 sampling teams. We always need new samplers each year to replace people who move out of the watershed. If you are interested in joining our team, please email our office and come to the March 2022 training session. No training or experience is necessary. It is a great way to get some morning fresh air and help the environment.

August Sampling Results Posted

The August water sampling results are in and posted on the website.

Flows were high due to all the rain we have had. Higher river flows result in more dilution for the wastewater treatment plants usually resulting in lower nitrate and TP. Because Brockton, Bridgewater, and Taunton WWTPs are not scheduled to complete their plant upgrades until next year, we still saw some elevated nitrate below the Brockton plant and elevated TP levels below all three plants despite the high river flow.

High stormwater runoff which causes the high river flows tends to result in elevated bacteria levels (from street runoff) which we saw as well. We hope to get more bacteria data using our new more sensitive indicator enterococci in the future to help put this in better perspective.

We had a perfect month for sample collection from all our 20 sites plus our 2 duplicates and blanks. I appreciate that our team was able to step in and successfully restart our sampling program after a 1 year and 4 month hiatus due to the pandemic.

As we have in the past TRWA forwards our results to EPA Region 1 and MassDEP for their information. My hope is that now that there is a new Administration in DC they will be motivated to complete updated permits for Somerset and Fall River with nutrient limitations so that the five major treatment plants who are already completing upgrades and everyone who lives in the watershed will receive the benefit of their investment and a healthier estuary and river.

TRWA Monitoring Began August 10, 2021

On August 10th TRWA restarted it’s watershed monitoring program after a one year, four month pause due to the Covid 19 pandemic. We paused the program in 2020 to keep our sampling volunteers and our partners at the Taunton wastewater treatment plant safe. Now that our volunteers have had the opportunity to get fully vaccinated we restarted the program. Our volunteers wear masks when dropping off samples at the WWTP lab.

We held our annual training event outside at our Sweets Knoll State Park River Center on the last Saturday morning the month before our sampling program resumed. We have 22 volunteer samplers working on 9 teams sampling 20 locations in the watershed the second Tuesday morning of each month this year.

We had a great day for the training and for our first day sampling. We will be posting the results of the August 2021 samples in the next couple of weeks once we receive them from our contract laboratory.

TRWA’s MassDEP Quality Assurance Project Plan approved monitoring is important because it is the only monitoring in the upper watershed tracking the effects of development, climate change and wastewater treatment plant upgrades on water quality. This information is important for tracking trends, identifying problems and suggesting measures to promote the health of the Taunton River and the people and wildlife this ecosystem sustains.

A big thank you to our returning and new sampling volunteers as well as our partners at Veolia – Taunton WWTP!

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.

Volunteer of the Month: Priscilla Chapman

Priscilla ChapmanPriscilla Chapman, longtime TRWA board member and watershed advocate is TRWA’s December volunteer of the month. She completed her two-year term as the president of TRWA in November with a surprise bouquet of flowers and thank you’s from the board. As one of her last presidential duties she conducted TRWA’s annual meeting via Zoom, a major accomplishment. Participating via Zoom was a major achievement to some of TRWA’s members too. Priscilla will remain on the board so she can give more time to her first love, watershed advocacy.
Our board members have commented on Priscilla’s advocacy. As each member gives examples of her work, you will get a sense of how long, determined and persistent her devotion to protecting the watershed have been.
Incoming TRWA president Joe Callahan says, “Priscilla is and remains hopefully for many years a great advocate for TRWA and the watershed. She has given so much of her time to TRWA and deserves much recognition. She is a terrific writer and is expert on MEPA* wetlands regulations. It is her forte. I want to thank her for her years of dedication and urge her to continue in her advocacy work. She is a great asset to lean on.
*MEPA is the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, and its regulations are complicated and crucially important in the watershed https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-environmental-policy-act-office
Longtime board member Alex seconds Joe sentiments. He says that she was a great help and lent much of her time in helping him fight the shopping mall which was planned in Freetown several years back on an area that was a known coal ash pit near the Assonet Bay in an area that was also known diamondback terrapin habitat. This was a very emotional topic in Freetown for some time, and the shopping center eventually was not built, and that part of the diamondback terrapin habitat remained. Read more about this story here.
Fellow board member Craig Heffernan adds, “She’s a wealth of information on issues facing the watershed. Her work on advocacy is second to none.
Steve Silva, TRWA’s water quality testing program director says, “Priscilla has been a backbone volunteer for TRWA both during my six-year involvement with the organization and from what I’ve learned many years before that. 
Using her experience from being on the Fall River Conservation Commission, she prepares thoughtful comments on development projects in the watershed.
She stepped in to be President for two years when we really needed her. She has done some big projects like the Stream Continuity Study Report which she worked on with Mass Audubon. She has done (and continues to do) so much for TRWA!
Carol Traverse concludes, “Priscilla’s letters and comments regarding the Wetlands Protection Act are top notch. When we get a call from someone concerned with a proposed project near the river or wetlands, Priscilla always gets in touch with them or visits the site to assess the person’s concerns. 
I don’t think people realize how much she has done for TRWA because she has gone about things so quietly.
She was also on the study committee to establish forty miles of the Taunton River as Wild and Scenic. Achievement of that status has been very important to the river’s preservation.
So, thank you to Priscilla for stepping in as president when she was needed and now for continuing with the environmental advocacy that is so important and we look forward to your contributions to TRWA’s continuing advocacy work.

Volunteer of the Month – Joe Callahan

Joe Callahan

When you think about Joe, you think of the word steady.

Joe Callahan, TRWA’s incoming president and past president, knows a thing or two about water.

Recreationally, he has done white water rafting, hiking, kayaking and trout fishing here and in the Grand Tetons, the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon.  

Study and analysis of water became his career. He is an avid volunteer for its protection.

A co-op job at Northeastern headed him away from his anticipated career as a lawyer into environmental work at the EPA and at National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).

He is a volunteer who just can’t say no. In addition to being TRWA’s incoming president, he is a Taunton River Wild and Scenic Board member, and Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) representative for Berkley and its Finance and Personnel Committees. He also serves as a member of the Joint Transportation Planning Group.

He is looking forward to a retirement although it’s still a few years away, because he has “lots in his future.” Right now, his busy life has left two brand new fishing poles sitting unused.

TRWA needs people like Joe more than ever to maintain and expand its core mission in environmental advocacy.  If you would join with Joe and other hardworking volunteers, please volunteer here. Where it asks what your interests are, type in “I want to help give Joe time to break in those new fishing poles.”

Joe joined TRWA over twenty years ago and has been a board member for most of that time. He joined to make a difference and enjoy the remarkable assets of the Taunton River at the same time. He says, “I am an environmental consultant by trade who cares deeply for the environment in which we live. We must protect and preserve this earth, the water, the air, and the wildlife or it will not be there for future generations.  I feel each of us has a duty to `do a part in whatever small way we can.”

Saying he is an environmental consultant is typical of Joe’s style of quiet understatement about himself.

He is a senior project manager at ​Environmental Strategies & Management (ES&M). ​He has nearly 30 years of experience in the environmental industry.  He is a Massachusetts Licensed Site Professional (LSP #7936), a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM) and a Toxics Use Reduction Planner (TURP).  At ES&M he is a Senior Project Manager for environmental assessment and remediation projects for major petroleum (both retail and terminal sites), industrial, and utility customers at sites throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  He manages several projects that involve wetlands permitting and storm-water management.

He says, “When I first joined TRWA, our offices were in a small room in an old mill building in Bridgewater. We’ve come a long way since then and in partnership with DCR, the Massachusetts department of Conservation and Recreation, we now have our offices in a beautiful building at Sweets Knoll State Park in Dighton.”  The part he isn’t mentioning is that he was instrumental in establishing the partnership and procuring the building. He continues “There were dedicated people with TRWA when I first joined as there are now. They provide a strong voice for the protection and preservation of the Wild and Scenic Taunton River and its watershed.”

Two other TRWA veterans have much to say in praise of him.

Steve Silva is TRWA’s director of the water quality monitoring program. Volunteering for a monitoring team is an attractive opportunity for environmental advocacy as long as Covid regulations permit it in 2021. This is what he says.

“Joe is an unselfish champion for the Taunton river watershed and a great choice for November volunteer of the month. I joined TRWA as a sampling volunteer in 2014 and became a Board member in 2015 where I first had the pleasure of meeting Joe. Joe is an avid kayaker and environmentalist who is an unselfish champion for the Taunton River. He has always stepped up.

His engineering technical knowledge, common sense, and knowledge of the watershed and the challenges facing it from rapid growth to climate change have been invaluable to the efforts of each group he helps.”

Jen O’Keefe, a longtime TRWA volunteer, avid kayaker, member of the terrapin team and calendar publisher may have said it best.

“Joe’s not looking for a stage, he’s looking for what’s best for the river.  And indeed, his quiet professionalism has been a mainstay of the TRWA’s board for many years, keeping things going when the going gets tough.

When you sit across from Joe at a meeting, you have no clue that this quiet and reserved person absolutely loves being outside and on the river. It’s something that you really only see if you happen to be on a paddling trip with him. He was instrumental in keeping things going when the TRWA made the move from Boyden to Sweets Knoll. When you think about Joe, you think of the word steady – because his work, whether it is with advocating for the river or for organizing a paddling trip or the annual meeting, while not flashy, is vital and his skills as a project planner are often all on display as he helps out with whatever project or educational opportunity the TRWA is organizing. He will be stepping up again to president this fall, and the watershed will once again benefit by having someone with his skills and heart giving direction to the TRWA’s work.”

~ by Sally Spooner