Water Quality Planning

Narragansett Bay Estuary Program
Narragansett Bay Estuary Program

Water quality planning is essential to help identify sources of pollutants and develop plans that can be implemented to restore the health of a watershed. The Estuary Program and NEIWPCC have funded the following projects to help town and nonprofits develop water quality plans:

The Town of Hopedale

is working to solve water quality issues in Hopedale Pond that have closed Hopedale Beach for swimming the past several years. The Town of Hopedale’s Park Commission is designing solutions to remedy pollution coming from stormwater outfalls into the Pond. The Parks Commission plans to use using green infrastructure retrofits, pet waste management, and waterfowl management. This project included the conceptual design of a grassed bioretention basin system in Hopedale Town Park.

The City of Pawtucket will focus on stormwater mapping and green infrastructure design to prioritize projects for the City’s 45 stormwater outfalls. The City will characterize the outfall drainage areas (soils groups, impervious cover, topography) and will then select the 10 most important drainage areas.  The priority sites will undergo intensive field assessment of catch basins, manholes, and interconnected drain lines.  The City will thereafter prepare conceptual designs for future stormwater improvement projects. See the Providence Journal’s article on the Pawtucket project.

The Town of Westerly is identifying, prioritizing, and implementing water quality improvements in Little Narragansett Bay and the lower portion of the Pawcatuck River.  Presently, these waters have high nutrient loads, elevated bacteria levels, lower water clarity, and low dissolved oxygen concentrations. This grant will support the Town’s work with Save The Bay to identify pollutant sources and develop an implementation plan to address the Phase 1 study area, which includes downtown Westerly. This plan will include recommendations for both structural and non-structural water quality improvements and an interactive map showing the results. See the Westerly Sun’s article on the Westerly’s project.

Clean Ocean Access is identifying sources of bacteria and pathogens impacting Easton’s Beach through their project, Stormwater pathogens – Find it and Fix it.  The goal is to track down the sources of bacteria that close the beach to swimming and develop solutions to fix these recurring problems. The project will include water quality testing and sediment sampling at key locations during dry-weather (low flow of stormwater) and wet-weather (high flow of stormwater) events. This project includes a partnership with the City of Newport, the Town of Middletown, and the Rhode Island Department of Health. See the Newport Daily News article on this project.

The Town of East Bridgewater is examining creative solutions to provide limited sewer extensions to serve the densely developed town center. East Bridgewater High School’s existing wastewater treatment facility has the opportunity to serve additional downtown properties. This project would reduce nitrogen and phosphorus contributions to nearby surface waters, including Meadow Brook, Salisbury Plain River, and Matfield River. The Board of Health will review the capacity of the High School Treatment Facility, assess the flows from other town buildings, project available system capacity for serving town center properties, and develop a Capital Improvements Plan for limited sewer service areas.

The Town of Halifax will identify, map, and prioritize the stormwater outfalls and other sources discharging to the East and West Monponsett Ponds (in the Taunton River watershed). The ponds are relatively shallow and provide drinking water, fisheries, flood control, and recreation.  Significant levels of pollutants have resulted in algal blooms which have closed beaches and caused fish kills.  The Board of Health’s project will include field verification and mapping of outfalls, prioritization and conceptual design for sites, and permit level design and cost estimates for the three highest priority sites. The partners on this project include the Monponsett Watershed Association and the Massachusetts Division of Ecologic Restoration. See the article in ecoRI highlighting the Halifax project.

The City of Newport completed a feasibility study to find ways to control nutrient loadings to two drinking water sources, St. Mary’s Pond and Watson Reservoir. The goal of the Source Water Phosphorus Reduction Feasibility Plan is to restore degraded water quality, protect watershed health, assess pollutant sources, and help to identify and prioritize management efforts. Newport will work with Middletown and Portsmouth to better understand the problems at the sources and coordinate control efforts. The outcome of this project is a phosphorus reduction plan to improve water quality in the two impaired drinking water sources which can be found here.

Mass Audubon developed the Shaping the Future of Your Community Outreach & Assistance Program to provide smart growth workshops and technical assistance to address the fastest growing municipalities in the Blackstone River watershed in Massachusetts. Five communities were selected (Auburn, Grafton Mendon, Millbury, and Worcester) to receive technical assistance for local Low Impact Development (LID) and land use planning projects to improve water quality and stormwater management. This technical assistance is provided with Audubon’s partners Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission, Horsley Witten Group and the Blackstone River Coalition.

The Town of Avon is examining stormwater pollution to an important local waterway – Trout Brook.  The Town of Avon relies on multiple groundwater sources and the Town’s wells rely exclusively on the recharge of stormwater as the source of fresh water. They will assess potential contributions to the impairments in the Trout Brook watershed, including examining stormwater outfalls that discharge directly into Trout Brook.  The analysis will include land-use surveys within the five largest catchment areas and water quality sampling to assess discharges to Trout Brook.  The project will also include preliminary design of stormwater projects for nutrient and pathogen removal.

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