Grant aims to stop runoff into Westport River’s East Branch

Rainwater runs down Drift Road en route to Sam Tripp Brook and then the river's East Branch.

Rainwater runs down Drift Road en route to Sam Tripp Brook and then the river’s East Branch.

Westport has been awarded $20,000 to develop engineering plans to treat a stormwater discharge into Sam Tripp Brook at Drift Road and from there into the East Branch of the Westport River.

This is a federal grant program administered by the Office of Coastal Zone Management’sBuzzards Bay National Estuary Program. Pursuit of this grant was a cooperative effort between the town and the Westport River Watershed Alliance.

Drainage from the municipal stormwater system on Drift Road flows untreated into the East Branch of the Westport River. This section of the Westport River is on the state’s list of impaired waters for bacteria and nitrogen and is closed to shellfishing for portions of the year. Treatment of the discharge is expected to contribute to improvements in water quality.

The area of the Westport River adjacent to the mouth of Sam Tripp Brook is a habitat not only for shellfish (oysters, soft-shell clams, quahogs) and finfish, but also gets recreational use, including kayaking, canoeing, and power boating. The Mass. Department of Marine Fisheries has classified the area as “Conditionally Approved” for shellfishing.  Directly off the marsh into which Sam Tripp Brook feeds are documented areas containing shellfish beds.

Work was recently completed to replace the culvert under Drift Road at Sam Tripp Brook that was damaged in 2010 by a storm. The design and size of the culvert will prevent future flooding at that site and benefit fish and other wildlife by providing continuous stream access and migration under the road.

Still, stormwater traveling down the roadside cement channel and the road continues to enter the brook untreated and acts to erode the edge of the road on the marsh side of the culvert. This grant will allow the assessment of the stormwater movement and provide plans to control and treat the stormwater before it enters the brook.

Westport will work with the Buzzards Bay NEP to find ways to control this runoff. The Buzzards Bay NEP will then seek a private engineering firm to develop final feasibility studies and plans.  When these projects are complete, the Buzzards Bay NEP will work with the town to secure additional state and federal funds to accomplish the project.