News Provided By Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration, as part of the Administration’s Earth Week celebration, announced today that $150,000 in Water Quality Monitoring Grant Program funding has been awarded to four coalitions of watershed monitoring groups to aid in the testing of water quality in rivers, lakes and ponds, and coastal resources across the Commonwealth. The grant program, which is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), will support waterbody monitoring efforts in eastern Massachusetts, Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod, and the Berkshires.
“By working together with regional stakeholder groups that regularly monitor for contaminants and bacteria in our rivers, lakes and surface waters, the Baker-Polito Administration is able to greatly increase its efforts in understanding the health of the Commonwealth’s waterbodies,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Partnership investments like the Water Quality Monitoring Grant Program help us to better assess the state’s watersheds, which are vital to our future planning and water protection efforts.”
The resulting water quality data will help MassDEP to implement program requirements under the federal Clean Water Act. The grant program is available to eligible non-profit organizations, including watershed groups, lake and pond associations and federally recognized Tribal Nations within the Commonwealth with expertise for conducting surface water quality monitoring projects.
“MassDEP regularly collects high-quality data to assess the health of our surface waters across the Commonwealth, and these grants help to increase and supplement that important data set,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “Regional watershed coalitions and non-profit groups have been conducting great field work for many years, and these grants will continue to support and enhance their monitoring efforts through the purchase of critical sampling equipment and supplies.”
The grant recipients and project awards include:
Organizations: The Ipswich River Watershed Association, in partnership with the Parker River Clean Water Association, and the Chebacco Lake Watershed Association. Funding Amount: $38,306 Summary: This grant will allow the coalition to collect data on chloride, nutrients, chlorophyll-a, and bacteria and perform continuous dissolved oxygen and temperature monitoring in the Parker, Ipswich and Essex rivers watersheds, and help purchase equipment and supplies to support staff activities for monitoring, training and analysis.
Organizations: The North and South Rivers Watershed Association, in partnership with the Charles River Watershed Association, the Center for Student Coastal Research, Mystic River Watershed Association, Nashua River Watershed Association, Neponset River Watershed Association, and OARS, for the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers. Funding Amount: $51,960 Summary: This grant will be used to expand the coalition’s capacity for continuous monitoring of conductivity to evaluate chloride in streams and rivers and to support existing monitoring for bacteria in waterbodies in eastern Massachusetts. The funds will help purchase equipment and supplies for monitoring and staff activities to support monitoring, analysis and other collaborative activities in watersheds throughout the Greater Boston area.
Organizations: The Housatonic Valley Association, in partnership with the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, and the Hoosic River Watershed Association. Funding Amount: $43,625 Summary: This grant will allow the coalition to monitor for conductivity, temperature, and bacteria in the Housatonic and Hoosic watersheds in Berkshire County and develop an interactive map for data presentation to the public. It will help purchase equipment and supplies to support staff monitoring, training, and analysis activities.
Organizations: The Buzzards Bay Coalition, in partnership with the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, Aquinnah, and Tisbury Waterways, Inc. Funding Amount: $16,109 Summary: This partial grant will be used to continue existing monitoring activities and to build new capacity to collect high resolution water quality data in Buzzards Bay, and the Cape Cod and Islands watersheds. It will involve the purchase of equipment and supplies to support long-term monitoring, train volunteers, perform laboratory analysis and manage data.
“With thousands of lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams in the Commonwealth the value of regional efforts to monitor water quality is paramount and that is why I am glad that the Baker-Polito Administration has sustained this important grant program to support this critical mission propelled by the Ipswich River Watershed Association, the Parker River Clean Water Association, the Chebacco Lake Watershed Association, and other organizations across the state,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “This grant will provide them with tools and resources to put local leadership into action.”
“I am very excited to hear about these monies going towards the monitoring of our crucial watersheds in the 4th Essex District. The Parker, Ipswich, and Essex Rivers are our main sources of water for the 4th Essex district,” said State Representative Jamie Belsito (D-Topsfield).“We must do everything we can to ensure that our water is healthy and safe for our residents. I am glad to see the MassDEP’s allocation of these necessary funds to the Ipswich River Watershed Association, Parker River Clean Water Association, and the Chebacco Lake Watershed associations. Our watershed associations do tremendous work on a daily basis monitoring, caring, and advocating for our vital watersheds.”
Watersheds across the Commonwealth must be assessed every two years. With more than 3,000 lakes and ponds, 12,000 miles of streams and rivers, and nearly 3,000 square miles of coastal waters in the Commonwealth, MassDEP’s Watershed Planning Program can sample only a fraction of these waters in any given year. MassDEP supplements its own surface water quality dataset with data collected by key stakeholders. Internal and certain external data meeting MassDEP’s acceptance criteria are used as the basis for assessing surface water quality in accordance with requirements under the federal Clean Water Act.
“Our partnership is grateful for the opportunity to monitor the water quality of our rivers, streams and lakes,” said Ipswich River Watershed Association Executive Director Wayne Castonguay. “We are especially excited to be focusing on new monitoring sites in areas with Environmental Justice populations, engaging volunteers from these communities.”
To recognize the value of state partnerships with watershed groups and other external data providers and the important role of this data for MassDEP’s success in federally mandated assessments, the $150,000 in available funds will be used to facilitate diverse activities for direct monitoring, capacity building activities, and actions to develop regional and long-term monitoring programs. The Water Quality Monitoring Grant program was designed specifically to promote collaboration among partners in coalitions and with the Commonwealth and support meaningful work to generate tangible benefits for Environmental Justice populations by addressing surface water quality protection and restoration through monitoring, outreach, and education. Over four years, the Water Quality Monitoring program has provided more than $650,000 in grants to organizations across the Commonwealth. For more information on MassDEP’s watershed monitoring and assessment programs, please visit the agency’s Watershed Planning Program webpage.
MassDEP’s mission is to protect and enhance the Commonwealth’s natural resources – air, water and land – to provide for the health, safety and welfare of all people, and a clean and safe environment for future generations. In carrying out this mission, MassDEP commits to address and advance environmental justice and equity for all people of the Commonwealth, provide meaningful, inclusive opportunities for people to participate in agency decisions that affect their lives, and ensure a diverse workforce that reflects the communities served by the agency.