Stream Continuity Report – Culvert Study

Throughout Massachusetts tens of thousands of bridges and culverts have been constructed on rivers and streams to enable roads and rail lines to cross.  These manmade structures are needed, but they were sometimes constructed in ways that altered the natural flow of the waterway and/or created barriers to passage for fish and other wildlife.  If the structures cause impoundments or stagnation of water or increase the risk of flooding of land lying along the waterway, they create threats to human health and safety. To restore deteriorated flow conditions, crossings should be replaced with structures that maintain streamflow and aquatic connectivity.

The River and Stream Continuity Project was a joint effort of the University of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration, the Nature Conservancy and American Rivers.  The Project developed a system to assess stream crossings and determine the extent to which each one created a barrier to aquatic passage and natural water flow. Field surveys of over five thousand stream crossings across the Commonwealth were conducted and the results were entered in a Stream Continuity Database.  The database generated an “Aquatic Score” that represented the degree to which that crossing creates a barrier. Crossings were ranked as “severe,” “significant,” “moderate,” “minor” or “insignificant” barriers to passage. 

Over 500 crossings were assessed within the Taunton River watershed.  These were located in 27 cities and towns.  The surveys were completed by volunteers from several groups including the TRWA.  A report on the findings of these surveys was jointly developed by TRWA and Mass Audubon.  This report highlights crossings that are most in need of replacement and areas of high ecological value that are impacted by restrictive crossings.

We encourage residents to visit local sites that are discussed in this report and to contact TRWA with your observations or further questions.  Cities and towns in the Taunton River Watershed have critical roles in advancing replacement project that will benefit ecological systems as well as human health and safety.  The report identifies sources of assistance to cities and towns that pursue crossing replacement projects.

Learn more about the project and read the report from this link to the TRWA website.  The report with Appendices is on the Mass Audubon website.


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