Athol among towns to receive watershed management funds  

  • Lake Ellis, as seen from the boat ramp on Wednesday. Athol Daily News/Deborrah Porter

Published: 8/7/2019 9:51:22 PM
Modified: 8/7/2019 9:51:12 PM

BOSTON – Athol is among the recipients of funding to assist local water quality management efforts, receiving $47,000 for a Lake Ellis Watershed Survey.

Funding will be used to establish a water quality baseline to serve as a foundation for the development of a watershed-based plan for the control of nuisance aquatic vegetation in Lake Ellis. The project will include consideration of alternative measures for the control of aquatic weeds.

The Baker-Polito Administration on Wednesday awarded $208,995 in funding to six projects to assess watershed pollution and plan for work to address water quality impairments. The projects, selected each year by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), are located in Athol, Braintree, Great Barrington, Natick, Palmer and Quincy.

“The protection of our watersheds is vital to our administration’s efforts to improve water quality and better protect the public health,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “By supporting innovative green infrastructure solutions, these grants will help communities preserve their environmentally sensitive resources.”

The grants are funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through Section 604b of the federal Clean Water Act. Since 1998, MassDEP has funded 103 projects under the 604b water quality management program, totaling more than $4.8 million to address non-point source pollution problems.

“Comprehensive watershed protection efforts keep communities, residents and natural resources across the Commonwealth safe and healthy,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “These grants will help the communities assess and ultimately protect vital local watershed resources.”

“Communities collect watershed data and develop green infrastructure plans to help them manage their local water sources, and we are pleased to offer this support for their efforts,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “The testing of water bodies and the development of low-impact development plans to manage stormwater are key steps in our overall water resource protection strategy across the Commonwealth.”

The term “non-point source pollution” refers to contaminants that are carried to a waterway as a result of precipitation and stormwater runoff from the land or infiltration into the soil. Common types of non-point source pollution include phosphorus and nitrogen from lawn and garden fertilizers, bacteria from pet waste and waterfowl, oil and grease from parking lots and roadways and sediment from construction activities and soil erosion.

Other projects selected by the Baker-Polito Administration to receive funding are:

■Sub-watershed Assessment and Stormwater Retrofit – $30,623, City of Braintree;

■Lake Mansfield – Beach Parking Area Stormwater Planning – $25,400, Town of Great Barrington;

■Greening Natick Streets – $27,975, Town of Natick;

■Forest Lake Watershed Assessment – $48,119, Town of Palmer;

■Stormwater Retrofit Evaluation Project, City of Quincy.

“I am glad to see funding going to support watershed management, particularly in Palmer and Athol,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “These grants go a long way towards ensuring that our towns are prepared and equipped for water quality issues associated with inclement weather and I am proud that they are taking a proactive approach.”

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.

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