- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards Grants to Help Local Watershed Groups Monitor Water Quality across Massachusetts
Edmund Coletta, MassDEP – Director of Public Affairs
BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration today awarded $175,000 in funding to 17 watershed monitoring groups across the Commonwealth to help them test lakes and ponds, rivers, and coastal resources for bacteria and other contaminants. The new Watershed Group Monitoring Grant program is offered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) 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.
“Access to the newest data and latest science is an important part of protecting waterways for the public across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our administration is proud to offer this new funding to help watershed groups and academic institutions more comprehensively assess the health and safety of Massachusetts’ surface waters.”
“The work performed using these grants will provide additional data for our environmental experts to use when assessing the health of waters across Massachusetts,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These projects are another opportunity for the Commonwealth and local organizations to partner in protecting and restoring valuable water resources.”
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-profit organizations, including watershed groups, academic institutions and others, with their surface water quality monitoring capacity.
“Regional watershed groups and other stakeholders are regularly out in the field taking samples for analysis, and this innovative new program will strengthen our partnership with them and their efforts,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Their work is vital to the preservation of the Commonwealth’s natural resources.”
“MassDEP has partnered with regional watershed organizations over the years to collect data on water quality and utilized that information to implement protective measures across the Commonwealth,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “The funds awarded today will help 17 groups buy testing equipment and allow them to greatly expand monitoring efforts within critical waterways.”
The grant recipients and awards are:
Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) – $3,475
The HVA will re-establish a bacteria monitoring program at 10 sites in the upper Housatonic River Watershed.
Nashua River Watershed Association (NRWA) – $15,000
The NRWA will purchase equipment and monitor bacteria at 28 sites throughout the Nashua River Watershed.
Cohasset Center for Student Coastal Research (CSCR) – $11,042
The CSCR will purchase equipment and expand an existing bacteria monitoring program from 11 to 28 sites in the Boston Harbor and South Coastal watersheds.
French River Connection (FRC) – $12,680
The FRC will purchase equipment and conduct weekly bacteria monitoring at 10 sites in the French River Watershed.
Taunton River Watershed Alliance (TRWA) – $3,303
The TRWA will expand an existing monitoring program to include e. coli at 20 sites in the Taunton River Watershed.
Neponset River Watershed Association (NepRWA) – $7,050
The NepRWA will purchase equipment and expand their Citizen Water Monitoring Network for five additional sites.
Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) – $7,200
The CRWA will expand their program to include six new sites on three key streams in the upper Charles River Watershed.
North and South Rivers Watershed Association (NSRWA) – $10,230
The NSRWA will expand their program to monitor more frequently during the recreation season at key sites in the South Coastal Watershed.
Berkshire Community College (BCC) – $5,962
The BCC will purchase equipment to analyze samples for bacteria collected by at least 17 watershed partners in surface waters throughout Berkshire County.
Blackstone River Coalition (BRC) – $15,000
The BRC will develop a water quality database and monitor bacteria in six waterbodies in the Massachusetts segment of the Blackstone River Watershed.
Organization for Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers (OARS) – $3,988
The OARS will conduct bacteria monitoring in the Concord River Watershed.
Ipswich River Watershed Association (IRWA) – $15,000
The IRWA will purchase equipment and build capacity to conduct bacteria monitoring with partners in the Ipswich River, North Coastal and Parker River watersheds.
Salem Sound Coast Watch (SSCW) – $14,943
The SSCW will expand their existing program to monitor bacteria in the upstream tributaries of the North and Danvers rivers.
Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) – $9,669
The MyRWA will purchase equipment and monitor bacteria at baseline locations in the Mystic River Watershed.
Farmington River Watershed Association (FRWA) – $15,000
The FRWA will purchase equipment and prepare a Quality Assurance Project Plan.
Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) – $14,865
The CRC will purchase equipment and prepare a Quality Assurance Project Plan.
University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth (UMD) – $9,763
The UMD will revise Quality Assurance Project plans and collect bacteria data in surface waters near the university.
“Partnerships are an important link to maintain and ensure environmental stewardship,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Senate Chairwoman of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “These grants will provide indispensable information to plan for long term health of our waterways.”
“The Massachusetts Watershed Planning Program plays a vital role in preserving the waterways in our Commonwealth,” said State Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox), House Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “These monitoring grants, thanks to the Baker-Polito Administration and MassDEP, will serve as a critical resource in allowing watershed groups and other organizations to increase their assessments on how to best maintain, enhance, and restore the quality of our state's waterways.”
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 are in need of 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.
To recognize the value of state partnerships with watershed groups and other external data collectors, the funding balance of $250,000 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.