- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards Grants to Help Local Watershed Groups Monitor Water Quality
Edmund Coletta, MassDEP – Director of Public Affairs
boston — The Baker-Polito Administration today awarded $154,145 in funding to 14 watershed monitoring groups across the Commonwealth to help them test rivers, lakes and ponds, and coastal resources for bacteria. The Water Quality Monitoring Grant program is being offered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for a second year to support watershed groups with baseline monitoring program activities and to help those groups build sampling capabilities. This grant program is part of a $450,000 increase in state funding that will be dedicated to increasing capacity in water quality monitoring and assessment.
“Promoting the availability of the latest resources available is critical in improving and protecting Massachusetts waterways,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our administration is committed to providing the support needed to ensure that our partners in the watershed protection community can continue the important work that they do at such a high level.”
“The diversity of waterbodies in the Commonwealth is one of the many reasons it is such a great place to live and work,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Protecting those assets is a major priority and our continued commitment to monitoring groups will advance this important effort.”
Each grant will fund up to $15,000 in monitoring project support, and the resulting enhanced water quality data will help MassDEP implement program requirements for the federal Clean Water Act. This funding will help eligible non-profits organizations, including watershed groups, academic institutions and others, with surface water quality monitoring capacity.
“This is the second year of this innovative grant program targeted at building strong data and science around watershed protection,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “The work of regional stakeholder groups to regularly monitor the Commonwealth’s waterbodies for contaminants is essential to the preservation of these important natural resources.”
“The work of regional watershed organizations is an important compliment to ongoing efforts at MassDEP,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “This grant program not only enhances existing programs, but provides an opportunity for groups that wish to develop or expand monitoring in their communities.”
The grant recipients and awards are:
Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) – $10,503
BEAT will use the grant to develop a volunteer-based water quality monitoring program in Berkshire County. Funds will be used to purchase bacteria sampling and analysis supplies to conduct biweekly monitoring at 22 sites in the Housatonic and Hoosic watersheds.
Blackstone River Coalition (BRC) – $15,000
BRC will use the grant to update and integrate historic data into a water quality database and to purchase bacteria sampling and analysis supplies to conduct biweekly monitoring at 10 sites in the Blackstone River watershed.
Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) – $14,788
CCS will use the grant to purchase bacteria sampling and analysis supplies and equipment to conduct biweekly bacteria monitoring at eight sites in the Cape Cod watershed.
Cohasset Center for Student Coastal Research (CCSCR) – $14,983
CCSCR will use this grant to purchase bacteria sampling and analysis supplies and equipment to expand the Center’s capacity to conduct weekly monitoring at 35 sites in the Boston Harbor and South Coastal watersheds.
Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) – $15,000
CRC will use this grant to purchase bacteria sampling and analysis supplies and equipment to support the work of Deerfield River Watershed Association, Chicopee4Rivers Watershed Council, and the Fort River Watershed Association in conducting weekly and biweekly monitoring at 49 sites in the Chicopee, Connecticut, and Deerfield watersheds.
Farmington River Watershed Association (FRWA) – $15,000
FRWA will use this grant to purchase bacteria sampling and analysis supplies and equipment and allow the association to continue to conduct biweekly monitoring at 17 sites in the Farmington River watershed.
French River Connection (FRC) – $3,222
FRC will use this grant to purchase bacteria sampling and analysis supplies to conduct biweekly monitoring at 10 sites in the French River watershed.
Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) – $13,660
HVA will use this grant to purchase bacteria sampling supplies and analysis supplies to conduct monitoring at 20 sites in the Housatonic River watershed.
Lake Quinsigamond Watershed Association (LQWA) – $4,350
LQWA will use this grant to purchase bacteria sampling supplies and conduct biweekly monitoring at nine sites in the Lake Quinsigamond watershed.
Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) – $9,203
MyRWA will use this grant to support an established bacteria monitoring program that includes monthly monitoring at 15 sites in the Mystic River watershed.
Nashua River Watershed Association (NRWA) – $12,425
NRWA will use this grant to purchase bacteria sampling and analysis supplies and equipment to conduct monthly monitoring at 18 sites and biweekly monitoring at eight sites within the Nashua River watershed.
Neponset River Watershed Association (NRWA) – $7,075
NRWA will use this grant to partner with the X-Cel Conservation Corps to build water quality monitoring capacity and conduct monthly monitoring at five sites in the Neponset River watershed.
Organization for the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers (OARS) – $3,950
OARS will use this grant to purchase bacteria sampling supplies to conduct weekly monitoring at two sites in each of the Assabet, Concord, and Sudbury watersheds.
Salem Sound Coastwatch (SSC) – $14,986
SSC will use this grant to purchase bacteria sampling and analysis supplies and equipment to conduct biweekly monitoring at 36 sites in the North Coastal watershed.
“I am thrilled to see the Center for Coastal Studies receive this grant,” said State Representative Will Crocker (R-Barnstable). “With Cape Cod having a sole source aquifer, it is critical to have near-constant monitoring of our water source and this funding will provide just that.”
“Ensuring that our local and regional partners have the support they need to make smart, science-based decisions about our water resources is essential to protecting our environment, public health, and safety,” said State Representative Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston). “Updating our data and expanding the scope of our monitoring is not only needed now, but it will become increasingly necessary as we confront the wide-ranging impacts of our rapidly changing climate.”
“I am thrilled that the Nashua River Watershed Association (NRWA) and OARS are receiving significant grant money to expand water quality monitoring services,” said State Representative Kate Hogan (D-Stow). “These organizations do important monitoring and analysis work that informs state government and delivers a better understanding of our rivers and watersheds, a crucial role in ensuring our constituents have access to clean water.”
Watersheds across the Commonwealth must be assessed every two years. However, many water bodies are not assessed for one or more uses – such as primary or secondary recreation or aquatic life – in any given assessment cycle, and many small or unnamed streams and ponds have never been monitored or assessed. Also, many water bodies that have been assessed in the past need updated information to determine their current condition. It is anticipated that this grant program will increase the availability of bacteria data that is used to determine the condition of surface waters within the state.
“The Commonwealth is making an excellent investment by building local capacity in monitoring. Water quality monitoring is the only way we can know if our rivers are safe for fishing, boating and swimming,” said Alison Field-Juma, executive director of OARS, the watershed organization for the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers. “It also tells us if there is a problem and helps town, state and federal governments find effective solutions. We are very pleased that the Commonwealth will be supporting this cost-effective way to help restore the health of our rivers from which we will all benefit.”
To recognize the value of state partnerships with watershed groups and other external data collectors, the funding balance of $154,145 will be used to build monitoring capacity. This will include improving the process that external data collectors use to develop state-required quality assurance monitoring project plans, as well as provide technical assistance and training to watershed groups on data management.
For more information on MassDEP’s watershed monitoring and assessment programs, turn here.