New Focus for Westport River Watershed Alliance

October 31, 2011

New Focus for Westport River Watershed Alliance

The Westport River Watershed Alliance will focus more of its time and resources on protecting and restoring the Westport River watershed.  With a unanimous budget vote from the board of directors, the organization is concentrating on being the watchdog of the Westport River watershed.

Executive Director, Matt Patrick, said, “Not many people are aware of our everyday activities on behalf of the river and its watershed but it is quite substantial.”  Patrick went on to say that while reading through the history of the organization he was impressed with all the work they have done and all the work currently in progress.  “We don’t even get paid for most of this work and it would never happen without us.” 

When asked for some examples, Patrick responded, “There’s the River Road project on the upper West Branch of the River where shellfish beds have been closed for years because of high coliform bacteria counts.  We spent about $10,000 in staff time to produce the testing and write a grant for the Town of Westport.  The town won the grant for $20,000 to design a system to catch the road runoff before it goes into the river.  The Westport River Watershed Alliance did not get anything from the grant.”

Patrick went on to say that while education programs will continue, they will be scaled back in proportion to the financial support that is available.  The new executive director made a point of saying, “Extensive polling of our members showed that they want us to do more to protect the watershed. We are going to focus our resources more intently on what people want us to do.”

Patrick gave more examples, “The town needed help with an application for a mandatory state Municipal Separate Storm System permit that had lapsed while the town was between town managers, so they called us and we were happy to do it.  Another Town project, where Sam Tripp Brook runs under Drift Road, was initially rejected by the Conservation Commission and rightfully so.  The new interim Town Administrator, Jack Healey, called our staff scientists to get their advice.  These are just some of the daily occurrences that keep our office busy.”

WRWA’s mission is to restore, protect, celebrate, and sustain the natural resources of the Westport River and its watershed which encompasses six towns:  Dartmouth, Fall River, Freetown, and Westport in Massachusetts, and Little Compton and Tiverton in Rhode Island.  WRWA accomplishes its goal of protecting the watershed through education, advocacy, and community outreach.   For further information on WRWA, please contact the office staff at (508) 636-3016 or visit www.westportwatershed.org.

 

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