Letter: For sake of river’s health, set nitrogen limits

Letter: For sake of river’s health, set nitrogen limits


To the editor:

To Christine Duerring, Watershed Planning:

The Westport River Watershed Alliance respectfully requests that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, per the mandate set by the EPA under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, approve the TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Loads) for the impaired waters of the Westport River as soon as possible. Delaying the release of these TMDLs prevents the town from implementing restoration goals for the Westport River and protecting its environmental and economic resources.

As you know, the Westport River and a number of its tributaries are currently listed on the 303(d) List of Impaired Waters for pathogens and nutrients. Over the past few years, the water quality of the river and streams has been showing evidence of increasing nutrient enrichment. Conversely, the Town of Westport has seen significant reductions in pathogen loads in the Westport River due to a number of factors, including bacterial mitigation projects and increasing public awareness. The Town of Westport is now looking to reduce the amount of nitrogen into the Westport River by addressing and managing the sources of this nitrogen.

The information in the Department of Environmental Protection report, especially regarding the threshold limits, is extremely important to the Town of Westport and associated watershed towns in determining the best nitrogen management strategies for the remediation of nitrogen pollution in the Westport River. As you know, having TMDLs in place is also necessary for the development of a Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan which is a significant measure towards the implementation of these TMDLs. Additionally, a town with a TMDL is more likely to receive funding from the State Revolving Fund Program to help finance the development of a Wastewater Management Plan as well as nitrogen management initiatives.

The Westport River Watershed has been an active and involved participant in the MEP for Westport by providing water quality data, performing water sampling, and helping to refine the data on a local level. We support the Town of Westport in pursuing nutrient management strategies for the remediation of the Westport River, and we urge the Department of Environmental Protection to support the Town as well by approving the TMDLS so that this process can begin.

Matthew C. Patrick, executive director

Lisabeth White, advocacy director

Westport River Watershed Alliance