Blackstone River Watershed Association
Blackstone River Watershed Association
In This Issue


From The Editor

Litter Not Extinct

Tempest Around Stormwater

Not Too Late to Support BRWA

Blackstone Valley 101

Member Paddle Reminder



Sewage Spill in Hopedale


MoGO iPhone App helps Gulf Wildlife

EPA Proposed Pesticide General Permit

BRWA Online
About the BRWA


Issue 6 June 2010

Rain Barrels
One great way to lower outdoor water consumption and redirect stormwater is to install a rain barrel. The roof of a typical 1500 sq ft cape style house can supply a total of 225 gallons of water with only inch of rainfall. This water is suitable for all outdoor irrigation purposes. This is a great example of a centuries old idea that is just as relevant today. Rain barrels have become mainstream and can be purchased at many garden centers, big box hardware stores and discount outlets. Some cities and towns also offer them for sale.

Or you can do as our ancestors did and make your own. Here’s a link to one of many good videos on how to construct and use a rain barrel.


From The Editor
When the modern environmental movement began, it was very much a grassroots effort. The mission was clear and visible. The pollution of the air, water and soil had reached levels impossible to ignore and people took action.

Nowadays we are confronted by complex environmental issues entangled in scientific and political debate. National and international organizations, staffed by professionals, advocate for the environment in the highest legislative halls, courts, board rooms and back rooms on the world stage. It may seem that we are disconnected from the movement, powerless to affect positive change in the face increasingly complex issues, and that grassroots advocacy is no longer effective or relevant. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In this issue, two articles illustrate the fact that the old enemies of the original environmental movement haven’t gone away. In the first article, Board Member Steve MacIndoe shows us that litter is still very much a problem in the watershed and that the accumulated trash is not only an eyesore and threat to human health and wildlife, but also an economic burden, as well. Then we link to an article from Peter Coffin of the Blackstone River Coalition on the subject of stormwater pollution and the reluctance to deal with it. Stormwater pollution is the sneakier brother to our older, more obvious enemy - the direct discharge of chemical waste and human pollutants into the water - but is just as damaging. Improper storm water management causes pollutants to be carried to our river in different ways, some obvious and some subtle. It must be corrected.

As individuals, our efforts in advocating for our river and watershed are far from irrelevant. Volunteering, involvement in local politics, educating family and friends, supporting grassroots organizations like the BRWA and just making good, informed choices all have the power to change things for the better.


Litter Not Extinct On Our River - By Steve MacIndoe
Growing up in the Blackstone Valley, the story is all too familiar. Native land was taken by settlers. Natural resources were taken by corporations. Resources fueled wealth and political power while waste was deposited into what was once natural resources. This is the history that has played out not only in the Blackstone River Valley, but all over the world. This is not only an 1800’s problem, but a current problem. On Earth Day, with this conflict in the back of my head, I was surprised to see the opposite.
Workers at Riverdale Mill inlet
Early Saturday morning on Earth Day, I pulled into Riverdale Mill. I was early and beat the group coming out to help clean up along the river. Although the volunteers weren’t there yet, there were three others that were there cleaning up the Blackstone River. These were not volunteers. These were profit driven, employees of one of the last remaining industrial manufacturing factories right here in Northbridge Massachusetts.

trash & debris at Riverdale Mill inlet grate The Riverdale Mill is hydro powered and relies heavily on the healthy flow of the Blackstone River. One of the major obstructions to the flow of the river is something we see every day; trash. The three full time employees told me they are out there every day, pulling trash out of the river that gets clogged in their filter. How much trash? They empty their 30 yard dumpster once a week. Is it all trash? No. However, after a recent flood, there were three full time employees spending 8 hours doing nothing but pulling out debris and trash.

According to Riverdale Mill owner Jim Knott, the amount of trash he pulls out of the river hasn’t gone down since he started running power off of the river. He says that they are normally out there every day, up to six times a day, pulling debris and trash out of the river. With his restored 1901 turbine and his restored 1935 Westinghouse motor, he has been fiscally attached to the health of the river since 1985 and has profited off of the removal of our trash from our river. For me, this is a new page in our industrial history.


Tempest Around Stormwater
A recent article by Blackstone River Coalition Coordinator Peter Coffin appeared in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette entitled "Tempest around storm water". In the article, Peter addresses the problem of stormwater pollution in our waterways and the overblown controversy over the impact of new EPA stormwater permits on local cities & towns. Click on the title to read the full article.


Support the BRWA!
It's not too late to support the Blackstone River Watershed Association's membership drive! One hundred percent of our member donations are invested in programs that support our mission to protect and restore the Blackstone River and its tributaries. Your tax-deductible contribution will support the BRWA's educational and outreach initiatives that are developed to protect the quality of our water, enhance critical habitat, and promote recreational activities in our rivers. To learn more about us and how you can show your support, please visit our website.


Blackstone Valley 101 Opens Window To History Of Industrialization
Computer-Based Learning Program Offers New Perspectives on Blackstone Valley

WOONSOCKET, RI —The John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission has announced the launch a new Computer-Based Learning program: Blackstone Valley 101. This interactive media program is designed to teach the general public about the rich history and cultural significance of the Blackstone Valley, and its impact on American Industrialization.

“We have a nationally significant story here in the Blackstone Valley. This program helps us to tell that story using today’s technology” according to Valerie Paul, Volunteer Coordinator at the Heritage Corridor. Paul went on to say that “the program is designed to be used by anyone who wants to learn more about our valley, including long term residents, newcomers, volunteers, and people who interact with the public as part of their work.”

Blackstone Valley 101, known as “BV101” by Heritage Corridor staff, features six chapters about various aspects of the Blackstone Valley, including: Industry in the Valley, People in the Valley, the Blackstone River, the Blackstone Canal, the Environment, and The Blackstone Valley Today. Participants can easily navigate between chapters with the user-friendly interface and interactive browsing buttons.

At the end of the program, a test challenges the user about their knowledge of the Blackstone Valley. Participants who score an 85% or higher on the test will receive a lapel pin with the Blackstone Valley 101 logo, denoting their comprehensive understanding of the Blackstone Valley.

To learn more about the program, or to begin taking it, please click here.


First Member Paddle of 2010!
BRWA Member Paddle -- River Bend Farm -- June 27th, 2020
  • BRWA members can use canoes for free from noon to 4:00PM.
  • Family friendly event
  • Canoes, paddles and life jackets are provided for kids and adults
  • Childrens scavenger hunt identifying flora and fauna of the area
  • Concert starts at 3:30 PM - Concerts in the Park series



June is National Rivers Month  info
6/21-6/27 National Pollinators Week  info
6/27 Blackstone Valley Community Concert Band-River Bend Farm 3:30PM  info
6/27 BRWA Member Paddle-River Bend Farm Noon-4PM  
7/8 BRWA Board Meeting
7/10 BRC Water Quality Sampling



Sewage Spill in Hopedale
On June 1, 2010 the Milford Daily News reported that sewage from a failed septic system at the Continuing Care Center in Hopedale, MA was leaking into the neighboring wetland. The wetland includes a stream that flows into the Mill River in Mendon. The Mill River ultimately flows into the Blackstone River in Woonsocket, RI. It is unknown at this time if the problem has been resolved. Click here for the full text of the article.



iPhone App to Rescue Oiled Gulf Coast Wildlife
UMass Amherst researchers have launched an iPhone App in an innovative approach to assisting resource strapped Gulf Coast wildlife rescuers by combining modern technology with citizen science. Here's the full story

EPA Proposes New Permit Requirements for Pesticide Discharges
In response to an April 2009 court decision that found that pesticide discharges to U.S. waters were pollutants, thus requiring a permit, the EPA has released for public comment a proposed permit aimed at protecting human health and water quality. More information can be found in the EPA press release and the Proposed Pesticide General Permit website.

Views & opinions expressed in linked websites do not necessarily state or reflect those of the BRWA.


Your input is crucial to this eNewsletter. If you have a local watershed-related story, information of interest to our subscribers, or comments about this publication, drop an email to the editor.

The Blackstone River Watershed Association (BRWA) has a mission to enhance and preserve the Blackstone River system and its watershed; its objectives are to:
  • Educate members, supporters, watershed residents on watershed protection strategies,
  • Engage the public in watershed stewardship activities, and
  • Improve the water quality and esthetics of the Blackstone River Watershed’s water bodies.
The BRWA eNewsletter is published monthly by the Blackstone River Watershed Association. BRWA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Editor: Michael Sperry
Mailing address: BRWA, 271 Oak Street Uxbridge, MA 01569
Phone: 508-278-5200  Web:

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