Monies granted for water protection

Recently, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary (EEA) Rick Sullivan announced almost $600,000 in grants from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) for projects to protect and restore rivers, watersheds and wildlife across the Commonwealth.
Since it was founded in 1988 as part of the Boston Harbor cleanup, MET has awarded more than $19 million in grants to organizations statewide that provide a wide array of environmental services, from supporting water projects in communities to protecting coastal habitats.
Funding for this program comes from the sale of the state’s three environmentally-themed specialty license plates: the Right Whale Tail, the Leaping Brook Trout and the Blackstone Valley Mill. The grants were:
• Association to Preserve Cape Cod – $80,000 to conduct a study of the effect of sea level rise on Cape Cod’s Monomoy and Sagamore groundwater lenses.
• City of Fall River – $50,000 to remove the Rattlesnake Brook Dam in Freetown.
• Conservation Law Foundation – $40,000 to provide fish consumption information and warnings for the lower Mystic River.
• Deerfield River Watershed Association – $24,896 to conduct a comprehensive ecological assessment of the Deerfield River.
• Friends of Herring River – $50,000 to perform preliminary engineering design and opinion of construction cost for replacement of the Chequesset Neck Road dike and culvert in Wellfleet as part of an 800-acre estuary restoration.
• Nashua River Watershed Association – $35,173 to partner with law enforcement and medical providers to encourage proper disposal of pharmaceuticals.
• The Nature Conservancy – $50,000 towards the removal of the West Britannia dam in Taunton.
• Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies – $46,500 to continue and expand a water quality testing and monitoring program for Nantucket Sound
• Silent Spring Institute – $50,000 to estimate inputs of emerging contaminants, including hormones, pharmaceuticals and consumer product chemicals, to the Cape Cod aquifer and evaluate how these inputs would change under proposed alternative wastewater scenarios.
• South Shore YMCA – $50,000 to remove a failed dam on Third Herring Brook in Hanover and restore a portion of the river.
• Town of Falmouth – $55,000 for engineering and plans to remove Lower Bog Dam, restore a portion of the Coonamesset River and restore 17 acres of abutting land.
• Town of Oak Bluffs – $50,000 for engineering and permitting for an improved opening between Farm Pond and Nantucket Sound. The larger opening will improve water quality and enhance shellfish beds.
Last year the Housatonic Valley Association received funding from MET to complete water quality assessments on various sections of the Housatonic River and its tributaries. They are looking for volunteers to complete a benthic macroinvertebrate assessment (water quality assessments) in the Housatonic River Watershed.
As an alternative to expensive chemical analyses of the rivers’ waters, these assessments will sample and analyze the invertebrates living in the bottom of the river –the benthic macro-invertebrates. These assessments will provide data to help inform not only HVA, but also the Massachusetts DEP and EPA about the quality of our local rivers. The training for volunteers to learn how to sample the river is scheduled for Saturday, July 13 from 9am – 1pm at Interlaken Park in Stockbridge.
HVA welcomes interested volunteers who are able to attend the training and then assist with collecting samples on three additional dates. While participation is free, registration is required. For more information call Dennis Regan at HVA at 413-394-9796.
HVA is aware that a whole host of invertebrates inhabit the river bottom and are an important part of the river ecology and the food chain. Our rivers are also a nursery for many invertebrates including insects such as dragonflies, craneflies and some beetles. Eggs laid in the water hatch and the aquatic larvae develop over several months or years depending upon the species. While some invertebrates are tolerant, many are susceptible to pollution. Finding out which invertebrates are thriving in a river help indicate the quality of the water. Many species of mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies are sensitive to pollution and, when found in the river bottom, are key indicators of good quality water.
Volunteers will learn more about the inhabitants of the river bottom and the sampling protocol for this program. Additional sampling dates will be scheduled this summer and fall. Participants are asked to commit time to volunteer to assist in at least three additional sampling dates over the next few months.
I suspect local fly fishermen might be interested in the results of these collections. After all, these microinvertibrates turn out to be the mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, etc., which fish feed on. Having firsthand knowledge of what our fish feed on in our rivers both in the nymph and adult form would give that flyfisherman a decided advantage over others lacking such knowledge.
I remember back in 1990 a Simon Rock student, MariLynn Sidari, did a thesis entitled Distribution of Caddisfly (Tricoptera) Larvae in the Williams River and its tributaries. That study was funded by the Friends of the Williams River. The results of her study revealed that 56 larvae of caddisflies, representing five families, were discovered in 16 stations. She listed their scientific names.
The late Ernest Long of Pittsfield, a highly respected and knowledgeable flyfisherman and fly tyer, then followed up and did research of his own and identified the imitation fly patterns that imitated those caddisflies. Always a well liked fellow, he became even more popular with his fellow anglers who wanted to get their hands on his report. I’ll bet some of our local fly fishermen might be thinking along the same lines with this current HVA study. *****

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