Westport Watershed Alliance study seeks source of West Branch pollution

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WESTPORT — The Board of Directors of the Westport River Watershed Alliance voted Thursday, Sept. 27, to make a significant investment in determining the problems that have closed shellfish beds in the upper half of the West Branch of the Westport River since 2009.

The Board voted to enter into a contract with the Horsley Witten Group, recognized experts in the field of stormwater runoff.

Board President Sally Ann Ledbetter said, “Thanks to generous contributions to our Watershed Improvement Fund, we are able to make this important contribution toward identifying and seeking remedies for River contamination.  The project will also have a positive economic impact on Westport and the surrounding communities.”

Horsley Witten will prepare a computer modeling analysis of land uses and pathogen or bacteria sources in the area.  The analysis will rely on the EPA’s Protocol for Developing Pathogen total maximum daily loads (TMDLs).

Executive Director, Matt Patrick, said, “We have been doing this piecemeal for a couple of years now.  Finding one source of the bacteria will not be enough to open up the entire area closed to shellfishing.  It’s time to look at all potential sources of pollution.  When we have the complete diagnosis, we will be able to engage the community to create a plan to comprehensively solve this chronic problem.”

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