River Watch News

4/7/08

Went to a rally for Darfur yesterday which was put on by the kids at OA High School. I gave a little speech which is posted below. It was strange day. The rally was at the football field which is next to the soccer fields. Not many people came to the rally, three or four dozen, mostly fellow students. However, many kids, moms, dads, aunts, uncles and so on and so forth filed in and out of the soccer fields. In one field kids playing silly games, surrounded by watching, cheering adults. In the adjacent field kids spending their time raising awareness, trying to stop genocide, no spectators, no moms, dads, aunts, uncles and so on and so forth. Very sad commentary on the state of our society, I think.

I would like to read a poem I wrote. Before I do I would like to talk a bit about it and Darfur, about my own siftings and how my feelings and thoughts have evolved since I became involved and aware over the past couple years. I want to relate my experience in a personal way, from the inside out as opposed to outside in. Because I think that to often we communicate to one another through the veneers and veils of our egoís and personas both personal and cultural. Sometimes our carefully constructed realities blind us to the real.

As for the poem, I have gone back and forth over whether or not it is appropriate to read today. Because itís quite graphic, not at all uplifting or hopeful, in fact itís pretty ugly. It spilled out of my head about a year ago while I was reading about Darfur and previous genocides. It began in a fit of helplessness, frustration and anger and ended with a tear in my eye. The upwelling of such powerful emotions took me by surprise and left me confused. It had been along time since I had tears in my eyes. While sifting through those thoughts and emotions a verse from an Indigo Girls song popped into my head. Itís a verse which for some reason stuck with me the first time I heard it, though I didnít quite know why. It goes like this, Well the darkness has a hunger thatís insatiable. And lightness it has a call thatís hard to hear. I wrap my fear around me like a blanket. I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it, Iím crawling on your shore.

It occurred to me then that perhaps my own ego (big boys donít cry) was a blanket of fear. Wrapped in it I felt secure and comfortable in my own little world. What I perceived as strength was in fact weakness, fear. Weakness which kept me in the dark, which prevented me from stepping into the lightness, to look at the world with eyes, mind and heart wide open. Fear, of exposing myself to the harsh human realities beyond my own little world. Stripped of my ego for that moment, without my blanket, I was exposed to hard questions about what responsibilities I have, and how I have lived up to those responsibilities to others who through no fault of their own are suffering.

And in a sense the ship of safety I sailed was this, my own country, a national ego. A country and ego which shield us very well, but sometimes blinds us to our own national weaknesses and faults.

Lastly, I believe the shore I found my self crawling upon was that of my own conscience. It was the shores of Sudan, Rwanda, Bosnia, Iraq, Cambodia all genocides which have taken place in my own life time. All painful reminders, past and present of what people are capable of and of what self proclaimed civilized nations are capable of turning their backs on. Painful reminders of the world society I am part of and now partly responsible for.

I decided to read this poem today because what is happening in Darfur as we stand here on the comfort of our own shores is horribly ugly, a sickening blight which challenges societies high minded notion that we as a world society are a civilized society.

Genocide Genocide Genocide

Do you know it

No I do not

Only in my mind

What is in your mind today

Is Genocide in your mind today

Slop Slop Slop go the soldiers in and out of the battered young girl

Her dull groans through blood and bile gurgle across the dark continent falling upon nations ears which refuse to hear

Can you hear Genocide today

Thump Thump Thump go the butts of rifles thumping young flesh and bone to pulp

Pain thumps across the dark continent to Nations which refuse to feel

Can you feel Genocide today

Crackle Crack Crack go the flames

Raw blistered flesh melts into air

The stench drifts across the dark continent to Nations which refuse to turn their noses to the breeze

Can you smell genocide today

Beat Beat Beat

Silence

Silent goes the heart beat of an infant clutched in mothers arms

Silence booms across the dark continent, to the Nations of the world

Hush now

A baby dies

Can you hear the silence of genocide today

 

I thank you all for having genocide on your mind today and a special thanks to the kids here who have done so much to raise awareness about this, I have learned a lot from you through my involvement with you in these events. I have learned a lot about responsibility, about passion lost, and passion found, about passion for people and for living, and for you I would say this. Often times we, meaning adults and society, allow our perceived earned wisdom to close our doors to fresh thought, experience and action, in so doing we sometimes close your doors as well. Our earned wisdom the collective earned wisdom of several thousand years of civilization have not earned us much in terms of living up to our self assigned label of a "civilized society". This is painfully evident simply because we are here today rallying against genocide. Itís evident by countless other atrocities past and present. This world desperately needs fresh thought, fresh ideas, fresh passion. Thatís you, we need you. Though there is a sense of comfort behind closed doors, itís a cold comfort, as it comforts so does it constrict and limit. Donít constrict and limit yourselves, and never let anyone do it to you. The people we admire most are those who had the courage to open doors and step into the lightness. Be them, do likewise. Go out and knock down doors, pile them up high, build yourselves a bonfire with them to shine your light on the world.

 

 

1/19/07

Well, it took about a year and a half but we finally settled our appeal of the NPDES permit for the Brockton Sewer Plant. It was a miserable undertaking as for time spent arguing with lawyers and regulators who insist that 2+2 = 5, 6, 7, or 20, anything but 4. I ask myself now, should I write how I feel or should I be good?

My experience has taught me that government agencies donít always do a very good job of overseeing the government. Politics, greed, complacency, ignorance all play a role to varying degrees. Despite layer upon layer of government agencies and administrations the last and often only line of defense for our treasures both natural and otherwise is us.

For those of us experienced in such endeavors the above is hardly a revelation, however, a lot of young people bop around on this site. Much of this is for you. If you see a wrong, question it, learn it, challenge it, and change it. Itís your right and perhaps more importantly your responsibility. Along the way you will find plenty of liars and frauds in the government, however, you will also find some of the finest people to be found. Work with them and good things will happen.

It wasnít long after becoming involved with the Brockton sewer plant that I realized it was going to be a long haul. The local MA DEP office was blind to the gross pollution in the river and EPA was detached from on the ground affairs at the plant. Deciding that some public awareness might be helpful we organized a shoreline survey of the river with the Ma Riverways Adopt A Stream Program. We had a good turnout for our first meeting, local residents, along with some college and high school students.

A couple residents approached me before the start of the meeting and explained that they hunted and fished in the area. They told me what a filthy mess the river was and how someone needed to clean it up, I agreed. We then took our seats and began the meeting. I began by explaining that the task we were undertaking was not an easy one. It would likely take several years and a lot of time and effort. When I finished one fellow I spoke with before the meeting got up and began to rant about the inequities of it all, that it should not take so long. He seemed certain that someone out in the government would fix it without all the effort of which I spoke. Again, I explained my experience up to that point. The agencies charged with the task of regulating this plant were not doing their jobs, and they will not do it unless we force them. He became indignant at that point, made a couple ignorant comments regarding our meeting and with great bravado stomped out with his friend, never to return.

Looking back it was something of an Orwellian moment. For those of you familiar with 1984 by George Orwell think, Two Minutes Hate. The two fellows that marched out of the room were, by the fact they came to the meeting interested in cleaning up the river. They were frustrated and angry with the governments?indifference toward the blatant and gross pollution of the river. To them the government was impenetrable; they were wanting but not willing. Rather than venting their frustration by joining us in a constructive effort to get the job done, they choose to vent at us, as if we were the enemy. Our group became their Two Minutes Hate. They vented their anger and no doubt felt relived; however, it did nothing to solve the problem.

I run across the attitude displayed by those two fellows quite often, at the coffee shop, work, at family affairs and on the internet in blogs and forums. Itís the frustration of the wanting but unwilling. The vented anger and frustration quell the individual for the moment but do nothing to solve the problem. It becomes a cyclical sort of frustration and anger. Itís not a healthy way to live, believe me I have tried it.

 

12/23/06

Sunday, September 17 our family traveled from our home in Middleboro Massachusetts to New York City for the Rally to stop Genocide in Darfur. The following day the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, an Act which would allow America to put additional financial pressure on the Sudanese government was held up in the US Senate. Holding it up was Section 11. Section 11 endorsed divestment by individual states from companies which do business with Sudan. On Friday, October 13 President Bush signed the watered down version of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act.

New York City is a fascinating place for second time visitors like us. Itís difficult not to be drawn into it, and fascinated by the diversity of people and the people energy it exudes. The energy of the street funneled upward through the shining skyscrapers shouts; this is America to the world. It was quite sobering to hear the news of our Senateís failure. More sobering was the thought that the shining facades of our financial institutions might be supported by the bones of Genocide victims.

As the voices of thirty thousand Americans chanting Save Darfur echoed through Central Park, whispers wove there way through the halls of our US Senate.

We cannot endorse provisions of this bill which will endorse divestment by individual states.

Those investments may be too difficult to reverse when sanctions are lifted in the future.

The National Foreign Trade Council, a business lobbying group, is suing Illinois over its divestment law. They whisper, but the states are trying to conduct their own foreign affairs violating the Constitution.

The Bush administration along with Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, insisted the provision be removed. Why? Genocide is an equitable trade off for secure finances. The lost lives of thousands more people simply are not worth losing money over. As with preceding genocides our leaders disguise their own dithering, by blaming others for in action, here Russia and China.

For our family the New York rally experience was not unlike reading the Diary of Ann Frank. As a family we found ourselves as immersed in the city as we had been in the thoughts of a young girl, Anne Frank. We thoroughly enjoyed marveling at the skyscrapers and absorbing the people energy of the city and the rally. Like the reader is haunted by the reality of Anneís death throughout the book, an ugly reality is working here to deaden the voices of those trying to save the people of Darfur. The ugly reality is that profits of corporate America and the corporate world are more valuable than hundreds of thousands of our fellow humans. Many will die for our lack of action.

For those calloused by politics or too blinded by selfishness to act decisively and prevent the deaths of hundreds of thousands, there is something else at stake in Darfur. What happens to the word Genocide if we acknowledge it and fail to prevent it? If a word forged from the furnaces of the Holocaust no longer moves us to action, what will the future bring? What scale of human horror will be necessary to forge another word more horrible than Genocide?

 

 

8/30/06

Sudan: The Darfur Debacle

This Day (Lagos)

Lagos

History shows that the courses of wars hardly follow logic. And the Darfur region of Sudan has, for three years, re-affirmed the illogic of internal strife and presented to the world the horrible dimensions that mismanaged racial differences can assume. Now, with the rupture of the Darfur Peace Agreement, intensified violence in the troubled area, and the killing of some African Union (AU) peacekeepers, the United Nations (UN) should take decisive, interventionist steps before the country descends into complete chaos and pushes its wretched humanitarian condition beyond redemption.

 

Ya, I know, itís an ugly subject better suited for a cloudy, bitter January morning than a warm late summer afternoon. However, as the old saying goes, ďit is what it is? and as we go about our daily routines Genocide is rearing its ugly head once again in Africa, this time in the Darfur region of Sudan.

In 2004 the Bush administration, along with the US House and US Senate declared the atrocities being committed by the government of Sudan against the people of Darfur acts of Genocide. Since that declaration and up until May of this year some stability had been brought to the region by relief organizations and the eyes of the world watching. While atrocities have continued during this time span, they have been measured as opposed to wholesale slaughters, like Rwanda. Because of this some have labeled the Darfur Genocide, ďGenocide in slow motion? Because of this there seems to be a sense of complacency about this issue throughout our media outlets and among the general public.

Since May of this year the situation in Darfur has begun spiraling downward. The Sudanese government has scoffed at a United Nations resolution to put a large UN force on the ground in Dafur. Rather, the Sudanese government has begun amassing its forces, declaring they will solve the problem themselves. Relief workers are being murdered, driving them out of the refugee camps which are in desperate need of the food and medical attention only they can provide. Independent and members of international media outlets are being arrested or driven out of the most vulnerable areas through threats of violence.

What will follow is quite predictable. When the curtain has been drawn closed across the stage of Darfur the Sudanese government and the government supported Arab militias will annihilate the people of Darfur. When the deed is done and the dead are counted it will splash across headlines of newspapers and television broadcasts. Outrage, editorials and Op-edís will follow. Itís all quite predictable. Think Rwanda.

I have a suggestion. Rather than wait until after the deed has been done, begin now. From this day forward dedicate a bit of your time, a bit of your space, to Genocide in Darfur. We need to stop this now, before it becomes the bloodbath that it surely will. To stand by silently while the forth Genocide in just over twenty years unfolds before us is a disgrace. Help stop this one now.

 

 

2/17/05

Once again I have been grossly negligent regarding my news reporting responsibilities. There is a lot of good and bad stuff going on in this watershed and beyond. However, Bob Marleyís Redemption Song is fading from the music box to give way to Bunny Wailerís rendition of This Train, my beer tastes good, so again the news will have to wait.

I took a walk down South Beach at Monomoy yesterday to see what I could see, and had the funniest experience. I came across a young seal up in the dunes above high water. I walked over, sat next to him and said hello. The silly thing looked at me, looked away, and let loose one of the finest farts I ever heard. It was the funniest damn thing. I sat there in the dunes laughing like a fool. My new found friend didn't appear to see the humor in it. He shot me an indignant glare, as if to say, I mean it get lost and leave me alone.

Further along on my beach trek I came across another young seal. She looked similar to, and was in the same location as one I sat with last week. She was dead, torn up by coyotes the night before.

South beach is a unique place in winter, a rare blend of natures soul soothing beauty and natures merciless brutality. Complacency is not an option for wildlife here. My young seal friend found this out in a most grizzly and final fashion, as did many dead sea birds whose broken bodies lay scattered along the beach. Complacency toward our environment comes easy to us, seldom do we suffer the consequences of it in the present tense. Our complacency towards our environment and environmental issues comes in many different forms. The most troubling of which is born in and trickles down from the lofty perches of our societies leaders, both public and private.

Lets get ready to Ruuuuuumble!

In the right corner, fighting out of Washington, D.C. and the red states, please give it up for those mean nasty blue sky, clean water hating republicans.

In the left corner, hailing from the blue states, please give it up for those lily livered, tree hugging, big government loving pansies, the democrats.

This is what I see from my perspective, our leadership, more concerned with tearing each other down than working together to secure a stable productive environment for our future. The behavior of our leaders, the example they set, has a trickle down effect which infects people in all walks of life. You hear and see it constantly on TV, at meetings, on the radio, on the internet, at family gatherings, all you republicans are this, all you democrats are that. Itís become a sport, produced and broadcast for evening television, Sunday morning television and afternoon radio. It is the most selfish sort of complacency. While our best and brightest are bickering and pointing fingers like so many children, our environment, our future, and the future of our children lies unsecured. Rather than being offended by this spectacle, we become willing spectators or worse yet participants.

"As an environmentalist, it pained me to watch George Bush lie repeatedly about the environment in the last debate and then see John Kerry and the media bobble the chance to expose him. Bush was shameless as he tried to convince the American people he was -- in his own words - "a good steward of the environment" That quote is from Carl Pope president of the Sierra Club, it began his column titled field notes October 13, 2004.

This sort of garbage drives me nuts. Who is he speaking to? What purpose does it serve to arrogantly insult the President of the United States of America? To arrogantly insult the President of the United States of America is to arrogantly insult millions of people who voted for him. Many of these millions of people who voted for him care very deeply about the environment. "It pained me to watch George Bush lie repeatedly about the environment" Guess what Carl and all you other alleged leaders, it pains me to hear knuckleheads like you alienating the very people I need to secure a healthy environment for my children and theirs. The actions and language of the most visible representatives of any given group label and lump together the millions who are in between.

My grandfather was born in 1898. My father was born in 1936. I was born in 1961. My son was born in 1994, my daughter in 1996. My grandfather was born almost one hundred years before my children. One hundred years from my birth in 1961 it will be the year 2061, whether I am here or not I hope a great or great great-grandchild will be born to me. What bothers me to no end, what aches in my head like an abscess tooth, is I have no idea what sort of environment into which they will be born. Do you know what sort of environment your decedents will be born into in 2061? Do you think about it? Should you think about it? Does it trouble you? With all our technology, all our philosophy, all our big thinkers, with all we collectively think we are, we should have already secured a healthy environment for our children and theirs. We have not and it doesnít appear we will anytime soon.

Around the squared circle above where the rumble is taking place we sit, the millions of people who, when it comes right down to it, ainít all that far apart. What do I want for my great grandchildren in 2061, woods, where they can track a deer with a rifle or camera? Rivers, ponds, estuaries and oceans where they can swim with the fish or stalk them with hook and line, intact ecosystems where they can see species in something of their natural habitats, species that my grandfather and father never saw.

When I was a small boy, my dad would show me all his old haunts where he used to catch wild brook trout when he was a boy. Little streams on the outskirts of Brockton, that today are channelized between blocks of Campenelli housing developments. I would constantly pester him to tell me about the way things used to be, and wish that I could have seen the wild things and had as many wild places to play as he did. I do the same with my kids today, they pester me to tell the old stories and every time they see something new they ask if I or their grandfather had ever seen it.

When we were up on the Kennebec in 2002, my son desperately wanted to see a sturgeon leap. Although we had been going up since the dam was removed in 1999 he had yet to see one leap. On our last day on the river, we were drifting down stream within sight of Augusta at a place we call Sturgeon Point. It was late in the afternoon and except the thousands of baby shad jumping along the west bank, the river was smooth as glass.

My son was in the kayak up ahead of me when a sturgeon came sailing out of the water a hundred feet in front of him. He threw his arms up and started screaming did you see it, did you see it! Dad I saw a sturgeon jump right in front of me. He swung the kayak around and paddled back to me grinning from ear to ear, asking me if I had seen it? I told him that I did see it, and was very happy that he had seen it as well.. He then got a curious look on his face and asked me if Grampa Watts had ever seen a sturgeon leap? I said, no Daniel, I don't think Grampa Watts ever imagined seeing a sturgeon leap. He got all exited knowing that he had seen something wild, something his grandfather had never seen. He then looked at me with a big grin and said, I think Iíll go play with the baby shad for a while.

As I watched him paddle off to play with the shad, it struck me that we were seeing things here that no one else had seen in a hundred years. My father and grandfather never had an opportunity to see a sturgeon leap or play with baby shad, and here we were in 2002 doing both. While I hope that I will someday see a sturgeon leap and see baby shad jumping in my river, Taunton River, it is enough for me to know that through our work some day my childrenís children will see something here that I never did. Itís such a good feeling and makes our work together worthwhile.

Speaking of children, mine just walked in the door. Bunny Wailer has just been unceremoniously ejected from the music box in favor of my daughters new found favorite top forty star. Godzilla has begun bellowing at Mothra from my sons play station. Both want to check their e mail first, and worst of all my beer is empty. Lets get ready to Ruuuuuumble.

 

12/19

Our good friend, the Sea Lamprey May Offer Paralysis Cure in Humans HERE

10/16

The sickening slaughter of migrating adult American eels at "Green" Hydro Dams throughout New England is now underway. Photo's and Details HERE

10/11

Once again I have been grossly negligent in regard to my news reporting responsibilities. Never the less the frost was on the pumpkins for the first time here in Tispequin country and it's about time for a river news update. There is a lot of good stuff going on.

As part of the Taunton River Wild & Scenic Study we have been sampling local streams for aquatic macro invertebrates (water insects) over the summer. Fred SaintOurs an aquatic entomologist has been leading the surveys. We will have a page up in the next couple of days about this project.

Excuse me, have to cut this update short our esteemed president Queequeg T Dog Ph.D tells me its time for his romp at Weweantic. Oh well, be back soon.

Back again, went to Puddingshear Brook instead of Weweantic. If your out in the weedy and woodsy places beware of ticks. When the mosquitoes leave the ticks come back out.

Several conservation groups recently submitted nomination papers to American Rivers to have Taunton River  put on their list of Americas most endangered rivers. The Taunton is a worthy nominee, endangered from top to bottom by a proposed liquid natural gas terminal and freshwater de salinazation plant at its mouth. At the top, the Taunton continues to be endangered by the thoughtless pursuit of an expanded Brockton Sewer Plant. Its headwater streams and tributaries continue to be threatened by development as well.

We need to start thinking about what we want this river to be fifty and one hundred years from now. We must follow these thoughts with action. We must not allow people from cardboard cubicles to define this river for us. We must define what we want this river to be, and make it that way. Otherwise we lose it. It will cease to be a river, to become a semi secluded sluiceway serving industry and municipalities.

In 2004 it is high time we began serving the river. The Taunton and her tributaries have been our draft animals and shouldered our yolk for three hundred years, it's time we shouldered theirs. It's time to turn the Taunton out to pasture to become what she once was, Cotuhtikut, The Great River.

 

 

 

8/11

The public hearing on the draft permit for the Brockton Sewer Plant has been scheduled for August 25 7:00 pm at Brockton High School. The public comment period has also been reopened until the above date. Interestingly, at this time and up until August 16 public comments are also being accepted on the draft Report of the Water Policy Task Force. Below is the description of the report, copied from it.

THE CHARGE

In early 2004, the Secretary of Environmental Affairs, Ellen Roy Herzfelder, convened the Water Policy

Task Force to examine how water policy can more effectively complement and support the Governorís

development and environmental agendasóincreasing housing starts, job growth and the stateís ability to

attract new businesses, and crafting a strong and forward-looking environmental agenda, respectively.

Governor Romneyís commitment to coordinating the development and environmental agendas is manifest

in the creation of the Office for Commonwealth Development (OCD) and Secretary Herzfelderís Lean

and Green, and Smart Conservation agendas, which are reflected throughout this report.

PRINCIPLES OF THE WATER POLICY TASK FORCE

The Water Policy Task Group sought to advance the following environmental principles:

Keep water local and seek to have municipalities living within their water budget by addressing issues

from a watershed perspective;

Protect clean water and restore impaired waters;

Protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat; and

Promote development strategies consistent with sustainable water resource management

Recognizing that current utilization patterns of the Commonwealthís water resources are frequently not

sustainable, that the Commonwealthís economic growth and quality of life depend on a sustainable water

supply, and that we must create a more effective partnership with municipalities that are empowered with

critical land use and development decision-making authority, the Water Policy Task Force set itself the

following five principles:

Policy and reality crash and burn here. What has been approved by Secretary of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs Ellen Roy Herzfelder at the Brockton Sewer Plant is the polar opposite of EOEA policy. On another note we find it quite comical that the Mayor of Brockton John Yunits is a member of this task force. At the same time he was working on this grand policy his minions were skulking around in the backrooms of local Town Halls pitching his sewer plant as a regional solution to their septic woes. It appears that Secretary of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs Ellen Roy Herzfelder  and the good Mayor are speaking with two tongues once again. To see this report and our comments on it click HERE.

 

7/19

Recent word from EPA, there will likely be a public hearing on the draft permit, specifically on the permit language which prohibits additional sewer hookups to communities outside of Brockton. East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Easton, Halifax, Hanson and Avon have an interest in building sewer delivery infrastructure to tie into Brocktons system, for treatment at the Brockton Plant.

There is a high demand for this service throughout this area, and this demand will increase in the future. These towns are viewing the Brockton Plant as a long term solution to their septic woes, and as a way to open the door for more commercial and industrial development. As for the development issues, we will leave those to those who understand them better than us. As for the water issues, we feel the future of the upper Taunton River system, in terms of water quality and diversity of aquatic ecosystems hinges on the out come of this hearing and permit.

Can the upper Taunton River System absorb the current and future waste water flows of all these communities, and still maintain its biological aquatic integrity? Can our streams and aquifers meet the water demands of approximately one hundred and thirty thousand people (combined populations of above communities, 2000 census) if we draw it up and sluice it away through the Brockton Plant?

As of now a hearing date has not been set. When it is set we will post it here.

 

 

7/1

Today the Brockton Enterprise Newspaper reported that three more towns Avon, Hanson and Halifax have joined the Towns of Easton, East Bridgewater and West Bridgewater in an effort to elbow their way onto the porcelain throne that is the Brockton Sewer Plant. What a disgusting spectacle. It's interesting how Brockton has manipulated their naive neighbors into supporting the City cause in this matter.

6/26

This morning the Titicut St river gauge reads 96 cfs. If you live in West or East Bridgewater this means that most of the water in Salisbury Plain and Ahquannissowamsoo (river formerly known as Matfield) is effluent. As is much of the upper Taunton's. Effluent lovers rejoice!

A couple Saturdays back I canoed the Taunton from Cherry St in Bridgewater to Summer St in Bridgewater as part of the Taunton River Wild&Scenic River Run. I shared my canoe with an aquatic entomologist. We were looking for dragonflies. Along the river bank was a cleared area with a couple chairs and a rope swing hanging over the water. Fred looked at the swing, then at the water, and said, "I wouldn't swim here". "I wouldn't swim here." Neither would I, was my reply. Why, because it is dirty. How many people who travel the Taunton feel comfortable swimming in it? If not why?

Our dragonfly hunt proved interesting. Although there appeared to be quite a few dragonflies flying we found very few nymph cases (exuviae's) along the banks and in the exposed blowdowns (for those of you unfamiliar  with dragonflies, they live in the water as nymphs, and then crawl out onto dry land to hatch into their airborne life cycle). In fact along the whole course of our trip we found perhaps one dozen spent nymph cases. One dozen in six or seven miles of river.

The following day I walked up Satucket by the old weir. In the span of a football field I found dozens of such cases. In fact it was difficult not to step on them, they were so numerous. I found the same to be true at the Town River and Nemasket.

The more I learn about these little things and the more time I spend on the Taunton throughout the different seasons, the more I realize that the water here is screwed up. Individually, these indicators seem small, collectively they confirm that this rivers aquatic ecosystem is screwed up. A whiff of chlorine here, thick coats of algae covering bottom substrates, dingy brown water unlike that of the tributaries. Many of these indicators are what you don't or can't find. Few dragon, may, caddis and stoneflies. American shad, blueback herring, Atlantic sturgeon, where are they?

If we can fix the water I know we will discover a river beyond anyone's expectations. In order to fix it, we must first acknowledge it.

4/6

Stopped by Salisbury Plain River at Pleasant St. East Bridgewater again. Click on the thumb nail below for a look.

On a brighter note alewives have returned to Nemasket and to Weweantic in Wareham. If you would like to see a living river go to Nemasket in the next couple weeks.

3/25

Saw a redwing blackbird sitting on a cattail this morning, sure sign that spring is coming.

Stopped by Salisbury Plain River at Pleasant St. East Bridgewater this morning, the water was a sickening shade of gray and smelled like chlorine. It's enough to make you throw up all over your boot tops. Here are some photo's I took this morning. Click on the thumb nail below.

Also stopped by the Salisbury Plain of Perkins Ave in Brockton at the Churchill Linen Service Plant. We have been troubled by an intermittent flow of white cloudy liquid coming from a crack in the retaining wall abutting the plant. This morning we discovered it flowing from the wall into the stream.

We contacted the DEP, who in turn contacted city officials. Within a half an hour officials responded at the scene by taking samples of the fluid and photographs of the flow into the stream. We should know within a week or so what the fluid is and where it's coming from. Because this is intermittent it required a quick response by regulators to document it. It was nice to see such a quick response from both the DEP and the City. Now that we have officially documented this leak, we hope that we can finally put this case to rest. We will have an update on this when we get the test results. Here are some photo's of the site. Click on the thumb nail below.

2/18

Work is continuing on setting up an aquatic macro invertebrate sampling program for the tributaries of the Upper Taunton River. We hope to have a couple workshops early this spring followed by hands on sampling in May, Mid June (for dragon flies) and again in October for benthic macro invertebrates.  This is a great opportunity to get out on the water and then into the lab to learn and begin opening doors into the aquatic ecosystems of our rivers, streams and spring trickles. If you or anyone you know is interested in participating please contact us here glooskapandfrog@aol.com  

During our meeting at the watershed access lab it became clear that these are the types of explorations we need to be conducting. Having spent a good deal of time on these rivers, studying their history and species, I had the feeling that I knew them fairly well. After the meeting, I realized that although I knew them well geographically, I knew next to nothing about them from the aquatic ecosystem perspective. Four of us sat around a table in the lab, all of us familiar with the river, two of the participants are experts in the field of aquatic ecosystems and their species, in the end we all agreed we know very little about the water in this watershed. It's time to start learning.

For more info on aquatic macro invertebrate monitoring see our good eggs page and click on Electronic Field Guide to Macro Invertebrates of Small Streams in Eastern Massachusetts. This field guide was created by Fred SaintOurs. Fred is going to be setting up and running the program for the Taunton River.


In other matters we are awaiting a decision by the Ma Executive Office of Environmental Affairs on whether they will agree to partner with the Army Corp of Engineers in an effort to restore the alewife runs to Satucket River and Monponsett Pond. We sent them the following letter urging them to do so.

We would like to urge the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs to support and partner with the Army Corp of Engineers in this project to restore and reconnect the Satucket River. We feel that through Satucket lies an incredible restoration opportunity for the Satucket, Matfield and Taunton Rivers.

The headwaters of the Satucket River are Robbins Pond and above there, Monponsett Pond. Between the two is another pond, locally known as Stump Pond. Together these ponds comprise about 800 acres of pond habitat. Except Nemasket River and the Assawompsett Pond complex, these 800 acres represent the largest potential alewife spawning habitat in the Taunton River watershed. Historically and relatively recently (1950's) alewives had access to these ponds through a series of fishways beginning at the first upstream obstruction, Carver Cotton Gin Mill Dam, which is just down stream of Rt. 106 in East Bridgewater. Because this fish passage and other smaller ones have fallen apart over the years, alewives can no longer reach these ponds to spawn.

While at first thought this project may appear to be just an alewife restoration project, it is in fact, much more. The six hundred acres of alewife spawning habitat in Robbins, Stump and Monponsett Ponds have the potential to support a run of close to one million adult alewives, this is not a small number. Perhaps more importantly these one-million adults will ultimately parent two hundred and fifty million juveniles which will migrate down stream each fall. This represents a tremendous increase in the forage base for the Satucket River, Matfield River, Taunton River and Mount Hope Bay. Numbers such as these have basin wide impacts on both the aquatic and land-based ecosystems of the Taunton River Watershed.

It is well known that Nemasket River and its headwater ponds support the richest and most abundant assemblages of wildlife on the Taunton River. Bald eagles, Osprey, Kingfishers, Blue Herons and River Otter are common sights here. It is also well known that game fish of Nemasket are both larger and more abundant than those of other streams. This is due in no small part to the abundance of alewives in the Nemasket watershed. By reconnecting Satucket and its alewives we have an opportunity to recreate the success of Nemasket and reinvigorate with life the ecosystem of the whole Taunton River above Nemasket.

This restoration effort goes beyond alewives. Freshwater mussel species like the alewife floater (anadonta implicata) would be reintroduced into the Satucket. Other indigenous fish species would also have an opportunity to exploit what has been inaccessible habitat for fifty years. White perch, American shad, American Eel, sea Lamprey, rainbow smelt all essential elements of a living river, all important parts of a healthy thriving ecosystem. We know of no other restoration project that would have as far-reaching basin wide benefits, in this watershed, or in any other. Again, we urge your office to take the necessary steps to act upon this incredible ecosystem restoration opportunity. 


 

 

1/19

Get involved!!!

Through the summer of 2003 into 2004 four new river stewardship groups have been organized by local volunteers in conjunction with the Taunton River Wild & Scenic Study and the Massachusetts Riverways Program. Five rivers on the Upper Taunton now have a voice, the Town River, Matfield River, Winnetuxet River, Nemasket River and the Forge River.

Fifty years from now when all our patches of woods have been developed and parks like Border Land swarm with people, these rivers and their undeveloped corridors will become refuges. Refuges for wild and rare creatures and refuges for all of us who enjoy the quiet solitude of our watery places. Please feel free to contact us for more info on how you can help.

12/17

Queequeg and I saw a bald eagle perched in a tall pine along the high dunes of Assawompsett this morning.

12/11

Some thoughts on the upcoming permit for the Brockton Sewer Plant. There was an article in yesterdays Brockton Enterprise regarding the town of Eastonís need for sewer disposal in several areas of the town that can no longer function efficiently with septic systems. The town of East Bridgewater has been and continues to be in the same pickle, perhaps to a greater degree than the town of Easton. Brocktonís sewer plant has been mentioned by both towns as a possible solution to their sewage treatment needs. Brocktonís plant has also been proposed as the recipient of sewer water from the proposed Coweeset Brook Industrial Park which is being planned by Brockton, Easton and West Bridgewater for a large undeveloped area bordering Coweeset Brook primarily in West Bridgewater but also in the corners of Easton and Brockton. The following is an excerpt from documents outlining plans for the park from the Old Colony Planning Council.

"Based on the current wastewater treatment facilities within the Coweeset Brook Business Area, it appears that future wastewater treatment for the extended areas of development will most practically be provided by the City of Brockton Water Pollution Control Plant.

The existing plant is currently running at capacity which is 18 mgd. Over 60% of this flow is, however, a result of groundwater infiltration into the system. Brockton currently has an I/I program underway to address this issue. Under the presumption that this program will continue to move forward resulting in the freeing up of plant capacity for wastewater treatment, expanded development areas within three communities could be readily accommodated by the Brockton Plant."

Whether Easton, West Bridgewater and East Bridgewater will try to hook up to the Brockton plant is open to speculation at this point , however the fact that it is being discussed raises some serious questions regarding Brocktonís intent with their current proposal to expand and upgrade the capacity of their sewer plant by 2 and a half million gallons per day.

As the above paragraph from the Coweeset plan states "Over 60% of this flow is, however, a result of groundwater infiltration into the system" this 60% figure is pretty accurate. Therefore of the 21 mgd currently being treated at the plant less than 10 mgd is actual sewage the rest infiltrates in through the cityís dilapidated sewer infrastructure. Why does Brockton need 21.5 mgd of sewer treatment capacity when the plant only has about 10 mgd of actual sewer flow? Do they need to spend 60 million on a bigger plant or 60 million on a new sewer system?

It appears that Brockton may be attempting to regionalize their plant through the permitting and upgrade process. If the City reduces their I/I significantly and receives their requested flow increase of 21.5 mgd they will be able to replace non revenue producing ground water flows with paying sewage flows from surrounding communities who are in desperate need of these services.

Because so much of the plants flow is I/I it tends to fluctuate during summer low flow periods. If this fluctuating flow is replaced by a steady 21.5 mgd during summer low flow periods it could have serious impacts on the already stressed environment of Taunton River System. It appears that this may be the Cityís intent.

Another potential negative impact would be further low flow stress on streams such as the Canoe River and the Queset Brook in Easton and the Satucket River drainage in East Bridgewater. These streams have already been identified has having low flow problems. If Easton and East Bridgewater are allowed to use the Brockton Plant rather than building expensive ground infiltration treatment plants more water will be lost from these already stressed streams and aquifers.

I donít know how well circulated CDMís draft plant upgrade proposal was circulated, it can only be viewed at city hall and the dep office in Lakeville. I have copies of the pertinent parts. If anyone would like copies of these or copies regarding Coweeset Park let me know.

 

11/5

As usual we have been woefully negligent in regards to our reporting of the goings on in and about our rivers. In all honesty there have been so many good things happening that we can't keep up with them.

It appears that Brockton's on going, willful pollution of Trout Brook by the City's Cosgrove swimming pool has been rectified. Word from the DEP is that the city is going to have step out of the 1960's into bright light of 2003, and hook the pool up to their sewer system. We will be monitoring this site intensively next season to make sure the city has ceased this ignorant and disgraceful practice.

On a sour note the Ma Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA) will not require the City of Brockton to do an Environmental Impact Review for it's proposed EXPANSION and upgrade of it's Sewer Plant. Instead the EOEA accepted the Environmental Notification Form (ENF) prepared and submitted by the City's engineering firm Camp Dresser McKee. This pathetic excuse for a environmental document and EOEA's acceptance of it is troubling to say the least. However, if the City of Brockton is planning to continue treating these rivers as their private sewer sluices they had best stand by. In the future we and others will be monitoring these rivers quite carefully. This winter we will be training to begin Bio Monitoring of Macro Invertebrates in the waters of the Upper Taunton and it's tributaries. This will be an ongoing effort to document the impacts of the plant's effluent on the in water ecosystem of the Salisbury Plain, Matfield and Upper Taunton Rivers. This effort coupled with more intensive scrutiny of the Taunton Rivers impact on Mount Hope Bay will provide us with a wealth of information over the next ten years and beyond. If these rivers do not meet their designated uses under the Clean Water act (fishable and swimable) after the City of Brockton's proposed 50 odd million dollar EXPANSION and upgrade of the Sewer Plant  we will at that time be both prepared and have the ability to take this matter into the Judicial Arena as opposed to the current regulatory arena.

We would like to leave you with this one question. If Brockton is ready, willing and able to finance a freshwater desalinazation plant on the Lower Taunton River in Dighton which will turn polluted brackish water into tap water, why can't they upgrade their treatment plant at the top of the river to turn dirty water into fishable and swimable water?

5/25

Daniel and I took a walk along the dunes of Wapanuket this misty Sunday morning. It appears that the turtles have begun their spring egg laying ritual in the soft dune sands. The smell of skunk was strong where we found an excavated laying site. Empty eggs left over from the skunks breakfast were scattered about the hole they were laid in.

We were also treated to the sight of a mature Bald Eagle lazily soaring along the shore towards the outlet of Nemasket. It dwarfed the seagull following closely behind it, and seemed oblivious to the seagulls dive bombing heckling. This is the first time we have seen an eagle at Assawompsett, it was a special morning. We look forward to the morning when the sight of an eagle is accompanied by the cry of a loon here.

We also saw our first flowering lady slipper of the season.

We also found these curious looking fungus like flowers. They seem to appear out of the pure sand of the dunes, open and then disappear. Anyone know what they are?

 

4/23

Well, there has been a lot of news lately, however I have been to lazy to post it.

Today April 23 we lent a hand with an earth day clean up on the Salisbury Plain River in downtown Brockton. Looked to be a good turn out. Met some nice people who care a great deal about the stream and the city. I have no doubt that Brockton's rivers and streams will some day be a source of great civic pride. One of the finest gifts we could provide for the children of Brockton are clean rivers where they can catch fish, frogs and turtles. Streams that they can romp, splash and swim in on a hot summer day. Do the children of Brockton deserve any less than the children of surrounding communities who have clean rivers to play in?

Things also appear to be looking up in regards to the removal of Cotton Gin Dam at Satucket in East Bridgewater. Interested parties met at East Bridgewater town hall with folks from American Rivers, Army Corp of Engineers and the Ma River Restore Program. I would consider it our most productive meeting to date.

3/29

Visited Satucket yesterday afternoon, the Alewives have arrived below the pile of industrial waste which fouls the river. Now that the water levels have dropped our suspicions have been confirmed. There are several spots at the base of the pile where water can be seen flowing through the rubble, these were not there last season.

Stood on the walkway above the spillway watching our good friends the Alewives and White Suckers trying to swim up through the spill gates torrent. Their determination, swimming strength and endurance is truly a wonder of nature and a sight to behold.

 

3/25

Good news, the Alewives are returning to our rivers on their annual spring spawning runs. Nemasket was loaded with fish yesterday and the Agawam in Wareham has large numbers of fish also. Stopped by the Town River in West Bridgewater yesterday and did not see any Alewives, however there were large schools of Yellow Perch making their spawning run below the War Memorial Park Dam. The White suckers have also begun flashing their spawning colors in the shallow riffles of our streams.

Also checked Satucket below Carver Cotton Gin Dam no Alewives have arrived their yet, however I was encouraged by the high water flowing over the top of the dam. It appears that the dam has deteriorated even further over the winter and the piece of crap could collapse at any moment.

If anyone has children that fish below this structure, keep them out of there. The Ma Office of Dam Safety considers it to be in failing condition and a significant hazard.

 

 

1/23

Visited the Salisbury Plain River at Pleasant St. in East Bridgewater this afternoon. The stream registered an 8.0 out of a possible 10 on our newly purchased, high fangled, super duper, Acme Stink-O- Meter. There was a fine crop of white scum growing on the rocks underneath the bridge. On a more serious note, we found one of our good friends, a small white sucker dead on the shoreline downstream of the bridge.

 

 

1/10

Good news about the Brockton Sewer Plant. In a recent meeting between the EPA, DEP and City officials, the city was informed that they should reevaluate the update to the plant as it is currently proposed. The EPA advised them that they needed to update the plant in a manner which would allow for greater reductions in nutrient loads (phosphorus and nitrogen). This is great news for the river and indicates that the EPA is taking a strong stance on this issue. With the support of local citizens and conservation groups we can make a cleaner Salisbury Plain, Matfield and Taunton River a reality.

 

12/19

We are pleased to announce that the channel running from the Vinegar Swamp Drain to the Salisbury Plain has been cleaned up. The contaminated soil was excavated and replaced with rip rap, it looks much better, and should aide us in determining if illegal discharges are still occurring here. We will be posting photos soon.

It seemed we were not the only ones admiring this long awaited project. When we arrived on the scene there was a mink scampering about the area. Upon seeing us he ducked into a hollow willow tree and played peek-a-boo with us for several minutes.

We will be updating our news section as time permits. If you have anything of interest to add to this segment please feel free to send it along to us.

 

This morning 12/6 we paid a visit to the Vinegar Swamp storm drain above Pine Ave in Brockton, on the Salisbury Plain River. We were pleased to see that there is a DEP sign at the site. We were also pleased to see hay bales lining the edge of the channel and extensive oil boom structures in place in the river. We hope that this indicates a clean up of the site is in the works.

Several weeks ago we also visited a work crew performing sediment borings along this same site. They were hired by the gas company which owns the property abutting the river.

We also visited the Salisbury Plain River at Pleasant St in East Bridgewater today. Once again, just like last year at about this time the river is becoming discolored and quite offensive to our olfactory senses. Why this happens is a mystery. From late spring through early fall the river water here is quite clear, for some reason from late fall through early spring the water becomes discolored and more odorous than normal. buyshoeshotsale

The source of this change appears to be the Brockton WWTP simply because its outfall makes up more than 90 percent of the rivers flows. Furthermore the river above the plant does not seem to suffer this same change. Despite our prying and probing into this matter we still have no answer as to why this change takes place. However we will find out in due time.