Westport River — Search for a cure

Nov. 13 meeting to discuss year-long study findings, alternatives

By Bruce Burdett
Posted 10/31/19

WESTPORT — Results of a thorough year-long look at what ails the Westport River, especially its East Branch, and what should be done to nurse it back to health will be discussed at a public meeting …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


Westport River — Search for a cure

Nov. 13 meeting to discuss year-long study findings, alternatives

Posted

WESTPORT — Results of a thorough year-long look at what ails the Westport River, especially its East Branch, and what should be done to nurse it back to health will be discussed at a public meeting on Wednesday, November 13, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Town Hall Annex, 856 Main Road.

“Our activities on the land continue to increase the loads on the river, but the river’s capacity to handle those loads has not increased,” said Robert Daylor, chairman of the study Working Committee. “In fact, the river shows its stress in seasonal algal growth, eroded salt marshes, retreating sea grass beds and reduced shellfishing areas. The river has changed and we need to change how we use the land to reverse those stresses and help it regain its health.”

The Town of Westport and its planning consultants will host the meeting to present the draft Targeted-Integrated Water Resources Management Plan. The plan is the product of months of effort by town officials, local stakeholders, and the town’s consultants. The meeting purpose is to report on proposed alternatives to address the goals of the plan.

The study and its findings “specifically focused on water quality challenges within the East Branch of the Westport River and its surrounding watershed.” Alternatives to address the issues “were considered within the framework of environmental and public health benefits, synergy with local economic development initiatives, and cost among other criteria.”

“This plan provides a path forward to meet the water quality challenges faced by the community, and when implemented will have far reaching impact,” its authors said. “It is important that residents understand the issues addressed, benefits provided, and potential costs generated by this program. We want all residents to be informed on the merits of the program and have the opportunity to comment on the draft plan as proposed. “

“Our activities on the land continue to increase the loads on the river, but the river’s capacity to handle those loads has not increased,” says Robert Daylor, chairman of the study Working Committee. “In fact, the river shows its stress in seasonal algal growth, eroded salt marshes, retreating sea grass beds and reduced shellfishing areas. The river has changed and we need to change how we use the land to reverse those stresses and help it regain its health.”

This will take time — ‘Let’s get started’

Mr. Daylor offered a preview of the meeting to selectmen last Monday evening.

The study, he said, looks at land use issues that have an impact on river quality and at alternatives being considered to “bring us into compliance with the state’s mandate for nitrogen levels in the river.”

There “really is some good news in all of this,” he told selectmen. “In fact, all of the little measures the town has been taking — stricter enforcement around wetlands, having some nitrogen removal systems … all of these kinds of measures are showing an improvement in the river,” but there is a long way to go. Water quality, he said, is better at the lower end of the river than above Hix Bridge.

Alternatives up for discussion cover a wide range, Mr. Daylor said, from “physical things” like sewers (one such route is being looked at from Fall River to the top of Route 88) “that take the nitrogen contribution out of the watershed, to education — “changing people’s ideas that it’s a good idea to run a nice green lawn to the edge of the river, to regulatory changes.

“The plan is not for this year’s Town Meeting,” Mr. Daylor added. “The plan is steps that we will take for our grandchildren. This is 50 years of ‘Let’s go.’”

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.