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.

I don’t know what the new year will hold for us as far as sampling goes.  As you know we cancelled the 2020 sampling program to keep our volunteers and the personnel at the treatment plant safe.  In 2021 by summer I’m hoping there may be enough folks vaccinated to do a last Saturday morning of some summer month refresher training session (possibly outdoors at Sweets Knoll) and sample late summer through October.  We won’t know for sure until we see how the vaccination program progresses.  From news reports it looks like the future will be a race between vaccination roll out and virus mutation for the immediate term.  At any rate the start of the 2021 sampling will be delayed.  I’ll let you know when we are thinking of restarting the program well in advance.

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.

I 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 to Highlight Advocacy Work in 2021

Steve Silva Water Quality TestingA Victory for the Scenic Taunton River

The advocacy work TRWA and other similar organizations do is heroic and essential to our future. You will be seeing more about TRWA’s environmental advocacy on the website and on our Facebook page this year. And we are asking for your help.

TRWA is off to a highly active 2021 start. Advocacy needs are vast, and TRWA always welcomes new and repeat volunteers who want to work indoors or outside. The more volunteers we have, the better we can do – and the better the environment will be.

Below are some of the recent things TRWA has done or has supported. If you have worked in conservation or in the environmental field we can always use a few more people even if it’s 2 just hours a month. We also need residents in any of our 43 towns to be a spotter for environmental news or attend meetings in the area.

Here is a sampling of TRWA’s support work:

On the web site Steve Silva, TRWA’s secretary and head of the Water Quality Monitoring program, has posted TRWA’s support for rapid approval of upgrading the Taunton Wastewater Treatment facility plus supporting documents. https://savethetaunton.org/2020/11/25/trwa-submits-comments-requesting-rapid-approval-of-taunton-wwtf-upgrade-plans

TWRA is strongly supporting the adoption of changes to the wastewater management act supported by Massachusetts Rivers Alliance to preserve water in the droughts we may experience more frequently. https://www.massriversalliance.org/post/dep-proposing-regulatory-changes-to-water-management-act-to-conserve-water-during-drought.

The next Water Management Stakeholder Group meeting is Thursday, February 25 at 1 PM, and is open to the public. We will keep you posted about this event. The current Massachusetts current drought management plan is here: https://www.mass.gov/doc/massachusetts-drought-management-plan/download

TRWA supported Bill H 4921 which was signed into law this January. This bill requires that cities and towns send notifications, at minimum, email or text alerts to residents and watershed groups (who have requested inclusion on notification lists) if sewage or industrial waste has been or is being discharged in their area.

TRWA works closely with many agencies and organizations including the Department of

 

Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Mass Division of Fish and Wildlife, Southeast Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD), Bristol County Agricultural School, Bridgewater University, Environmental Protection AgencyRegion 1, MassDEP,  Mass Audubon, Save the Bay, the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, Wildlands Trust, the Nature Conservancy and Massachusetts Rivers Alliance. Working closely can involve attending meetings, writing letters of support, and in general supporting each other’s work.

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.

Our 2021 Annual Taunton River Tide Calendar and special “Avian Edition” Wall Calendar Is Now On Sale

The TRWA publishes a calendar with the local Taunton River Tides. It features the photography of our annual photography contest winners. Starting November 15th, we will have limited quantities of the calendar discounted and on sale for $15 at our Sweets Knoll State Park office.  Please call our offices at 508-828-1101 for more information and office hours.   Discounted copies will also be on sale at:

  • Taunton Development Corp, 6 Pleasant St Suite A, Taunton
  • Old Colony History Museum, 66 Church Green, Taunton
  • Riverhouse Restaurant in the Weir Village

You can also order copies of the calendar online, print on demand for $19.99 +$4 shipping & handling. Of that cost, $10 goes directly to the TRWA.

We do not normally publish two different calendars in the same year, but the amount of entries for our photo contest this year was staggering.  So in addition to our traditional Taunton River Tide Calendar, we have our special, one time only, pandemic busting “Avian Edition” Wall Calendar (with no tidal data…for folks who like to write appointments in their calendar….)

To view and order our TIDE calendar, follow this link: http://www.calendarlink.org/trwa/home.html.
To view and order our BIRD calendar, follow this link: https://www.calendarlink.org/trwa2021bird/home.html

Want to customize our TRWA calendar?  Would you like it to start in, say, June, or be printed with the tide data from another NOAA tide station? Click this link for detailed instructions on how to order a custom calendar. how_to_order_online_flier

Want to see your photo on next year’s calendar? Enter our calendar photography contest.

The list of winners and preview images can be found at this link.

 

Announcing the Winners of our 2021 Tide Calendar Digital Photography Contest

  

The Taunton River Watershed Alliance is pleased to announce the winners of our digital photography contest and that we were able to produce not one but two different calendars.  We will be publishing our traditional Taunton River Tide calendar with images that showcase our Nationally designated “Wild & Scenic River,” and we will be publishing a one time only “Avian Edition Wall Calendar.”  (Well, what do you do when 117 of your 348 entries are photographs of birds?)  2020 has been an interesting year, and with the social distancing requirements, we knew people were spending more time outdoors.  Just how much more time became evident when the photo contest deadline rolled around and the TRWA servers regularly started to go down because of the amount of emailed entries.  The quality and range of the submissions were breathtaking and our TRWA Board Member judges are still upset about how many images got left on the table because even with two calendars, there was room only for 26.  The volunteers who worked to publish the calendar are fondly calling the special bird calendar a “pandemic buster.” At the TRWA we hope it will brighten peoples days a little bit more in 2021.  

This year the two calendars combined feature the work of 19 area photographers and nature enthusiasts. Pictures are of the wild life and scenery within the Taunton River Watershed, 562 square miles in all of or part of 43 Southeastern Massachusetts cities and towns. 

This year’s Tide Calendar winners are:

Cover
“Waiting on the River,” Taunton River, Berkley, MA – Ruth Langlan

January:
“Ice Boat,” Long Pond, East Freetown, MA – Douglas Desjardins

February: 
“Old Bridge Street Bridge,” Nemasket River, Lakeville/Middleborough, MA – Chad T. Lovett

March:
“Great Horned Owl with Owlet,” East Bridgewater, MA – Bernard Creswick

April:  
“Black Backed Gull Fishing at Oliver Mills,” Middleborough, MA – Janet MacCausland

May:
“Oriole in Apple Tree,” Berkley, MA – Ronald Tomawski

June:
“Bee and Lady Slipper,” Middleborough, MA – Bud Morton

July:
“Takin’ A Walk,” Sweets Knoll State Park, Dighton, MA – Donna Berthelette

August:
“Wood Turtle,” Undisclosed Location, Taunton River Watershed – George Bancroft

September:
“Great Blue Heron,” Lakeville, MA – Mohamad Ojjeh

October: 
“Foggy Morning,” Taunton River, Dighton, MA – Mary Lou Nicodemus

November:
“Fall Cranberry Harvest,” Betty’s Neck, Lakeville, MA – Alex Perez

December:
“Nemasket River,” Plymouth Street Bridge, Middleborough, MA – Janice McGonagle

Our special one time only Pandemic Buster “Avian Edition Wall Calendar” features the photography of:

Cover
“Green Heron,” Taunton, MA – Mohamad Ojjeh

January:
“Mockingbird,” Brockton, MA – Bernard Creswick

February: 
“Northern Flicker,” Great River Preserve, Bridgewater, MA – Bernard Creswick

March:
“Golden Light,” Dighton, MA – Anna LeBlanc

April:
“Oriole Feeding,” Bridgewater, MA – Ruth Langlan

May:
“Orioles in Spring,” Assonet, MA – Carolyn DiFrancesco

June:
“Tree Swallow Sing-A-Long,” Tamarack Park, Lakeville, MA – Bud Morton

July:
“Young Bald Eagle Branching,” Dighton, MA – David Ennis

August
“Phoebe with Water Drops,” Berkley, MA – Ronald Tomawski

September:
“Gone Fishing,” Norton, MA – Alison F. Kidder

October:
“Ms. October,” Female Kingfisher, Assonet River, Berkley, MA – Pam Lowell

November:
“Drippy,” Broad Cove, Dighton, MA – Rita Eva Spier

December:
“Cardinal in the Snow,” Assonet, MA – Carolyn DiFrancesco

The TRWA will have a vey limited amount of copies for sale for $15/member, $20 non-member at its office starting November 16th.   Please call ahead at 508- 828-1101 for times when the office will be open. 

Calendars are always available print-on-demand. The TRWA is excited to use all the options of this new technology. The print-on-demand calendars can be printed from any month in the year with the tide data from the Taunton River or any other of the 3,500 NOAA tide stations. Or, if you like to write appointments into your calendar, you can order a calendar printed up without the tidal data.  People purchasing the calendar can even customize their calendar with their own photographs. Half the proceeds from the online $19.99 purchase price goes directly to the TRWA to support its ongoing mission protecting and restoring the Taunton River watershed, its tributaries, wetlands, floodplains, river corridors and wildlife.

To order our TIDE calendar, follow this link: http://www.calendarlink.org/trwa/home.html.
To order our BIRD calendar, follow this link: https://www.calendarlink.org/trwa2021bird/home.html

For a step by step guide for going through all the customizations on the order form, click on this link.  how_to_order_online_flier )

For over 30 years, TRWA has been a voice for the river, an advocate for environmental protection, sustainable development and responsible stewardship of our precious water resources. We are an Alliance of concerned residents, businesses, and organizations united to restore and properly manage water and related natural resources within the Taunton River Watershed.  Your purchase of these calendars helps to support our work.  Thank you!

    

Watershed Photography Contest

Our 2021 Digital Photography Contest is over…

We are working on a new online/”in the cloud” submission process for our 2022 contest. We won’t be taking submissions until the new procedures are in place.  So create a little “submission” folder on your computer and hold onto all those lovely seasonal watershed shots.  We’ll be making further announcements come spring 2021.

 

 

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.

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.

Surprising Terrapin (turtle) News

terrapin (turtle)A riverfront resident called yesterday (June 22, 2019). He had six female terrapins crawling around his yard looking to nest. He grabbed them for us. Melissa and I collected and processed them right away. (George was away for a family hike in New Hampshire this weekend. He’s going to be very jealous when he finds out.) Two were already PIT tagged (i.e., recaptures).

Upon entering their data we found the following;

  1. We now have 73 marked individual terrapins in the Lower Taunton River.
  2. We now have three recaptures. Still a small number, but we tripled our total this weekend – thanks to this resident.
  3. The “first” recaptured animal, 7041, was caught last year in the same yard after she nested on June 19, 2018. Her shell measurements are very similar to last year’s. (Differences are likely due to individual observer differences in reading the calipers – 0.5%-2% differences. Her mass was 13% (200g) greater this year. This is at least partially due to her still being gravid.
  4. The second recapture is 7053. We counted her with eight annuli last year and (thankfully) counted 9 on her yesterday. She processed very similarly to 7041 – shell metrics within 2% and was 9% (100g) heavier this year. HOWEVER, there was something VERY exciting! In 2018 we caught her in a trap in Broad Cove.

We have been wondering about the movements of terrapins between Broad Cove and Assonet Bay turtles and their movements up and down the river. At some point since last year, 7053 moved from Broad Cove to Assonet Bay. When did she get to Assonet Bay? Did she do so just to reach this particular nesting area? If so, why? There is a nice nesting area, use by several terrapin, in Broad Cove? How long will she stay?

All six turtles were released back at the same yard by the end of the day.

If you happen to see any terrapins (turtles) trying to nest in your yard please notify TRWA at director@savethetaunton.org or 508-828-1101. We would love to add more to our study. They are endangered and can use a little help with safe nesting areas.

PS: Update – we are now up to 88 marked turtles!

May Monitoring for Nitrate, Total Phosphorus and Bacteria (Enterococci) Posted

The May monitoring results for nitrate, total phosphorus and bacteria (enterococci) are posted on our website. The sample collection by our volunteer sampling team members and the sample processing by our Veolia lab partners was perfect! A big thank you for a great team effort! The fact that we have successfully adapted our monitoring program to the MassDEP’s suggested Quality Assurance procedures (multiple duplicates and blanks as well as a new bacteria indicator organism) is a real accomplishment.
 
In May we sampled in drizzly weather after a night of rain and at very high river flow. It will be interesting to see how these results compare to summer samples during dry conditions and low river flow.
 
In May despite very high dilution we still saw somewhat elevated nitrate levels in the Matfield River and our most upstream main stem Taunton River locations. Similarly these were our highest total phosphorus measurement locations.
 
The most interesting results are the bacteria enterococci results which violate the Massachusetts Water Quality Criterion, 61 colonies per 100 ml at all but one of our sampling locations. The elevated enterococci levels measured may have been caused by stormwater runoff from the previous night’s rain. Bacteria levels measured with the state’s new enterococci indicator during normal dry summer conditions will be something to watch as the sampling season progresses.