Blackstone River Watershed Association
Blackstone River Watershed Association
In This Issue


BRWA 4th Annual Riverways Cleanup

BRWA Annual Member Appreciation Event and Business Meeting

Blackstone Valley Bike Path News

CLF Challenges EPA Wastewater Permit to Restore Water Quality in MA & RI

EPA Chief Urges Runoff Prevention in Road Design



Spaulding R. Aldrich Memorial Recreation Area Dedicated


U.S. Freshwater Challenges

BRWA Online
About the BRWA


Issue 10 October 2010


Reporting Potential Environmental Damage
As watershed advocates and outdoorswomen and men, we have both a greater opportunity and a greater responsibility to report incidents or conditions that could threaten to damage the environment. Often our increased environmental awareness can help us observe problems that may otherwise go unnoticed. Many incidents go unreported because they are not recognized as abnormal or because the person or agency to contact is unknown. Here are some things you may observe and agencies to contact:
  • Fish kills

  • While the vast majority of the fish kills reported turn out to be natural events, they may also be the result of pollution or a deliberate or accidental change in water conditions. They should always be reported to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife.

  • Discharge of pollutants into storm drains

  • The only substance that should go into a storm drain is rainwater. Sewage, automotive chemicals, solid waste, etc. should not enter the stormwater system which often leads directly into ponds or streams. Illicit discharges should be reported immediately to the local Department of Public Works.

  • Discharge of pollutants into streams

  • Spills or illicit discharge of pollutants directly into streams or ponds should be reported to the MassDEP Environmental Strike Force.

  • Asian Longhorned Beetle

  • The Asian Longhorned Beetle is one of several invasive insects that are destructive to native forests. For ID information and to report sightings, go to or Don't Move
If you do report something or if you're unsure of who to call, contact us at the BRWA. We rely on you to help us keep tabs on the Watershed.



BRWA 4th Annual Blackstone Valley Riverways Cleanup
Volunteers are still needed for the 4th Annual Blackstone Valley Riverways Cleanup day on October 24th from 1 to 3pm. Cleanup sites include:
  • Mumford River - Gilboa Street, Douglas

  • Blackstone River - River Road, Uxbridge

  • Fisherville Pond - Rt. 122A, South Grafton

  • Hopedale Pond - Lake Avenue, Hopedale

Pizza and refreshments will be provided from 3 to 4 pm at River Bend Farm Visitors Center, Oak St, Uxbridge, MA after the cleanup.

For further info or to sign up, contact Heather Cameron, Outreach Coordinator at (508) 864-6827 or at


BRWA Annual Member Appreciation Event and Business Meeting

The BRWA will host its Annual Member Appreciation Event and Business Meeting on Saturday, November 6, 5:30-8:00p, at the River Bend Farm Visitor’s Center in Uxbridge. The festivities will feature a dusk-walk along the Blackstone Canal, led by DCR Park Supervisor Val Stegemoen, who will entertain members with “looney tunes heard around the campfire near the Blackstone Canal!” Have you heard about the headless bicycle rider that’s been seen along the Blackstone and West River paths? Do you know about the haunted mills of Uxbridge? How about how the Mumford River got its name? This is a “don’t miss” special opportunity to learn about the (spooky!) folklore unique to the region.What's that walking on the tow path at dusk?

After the 45-minute walk we will return to the Visitor’s Center for a cup of hot coffee or cider and our business meeting. The 30-minute (tops!) presentation will highlight the BRWA’s accomplishments over the past year and goals for next year and then members will vote in the organization’s officers and board of directors. The rest of the evening attendees will enjoy a fall buffet that will include gourmet vegetarian soup, freshly-made roll-up sandwiches, home-baked cookies, cider donuts, and apples.

A reminder that this event is for members only, so if you have not yet joined, visit the website at to learn how you can sign up today! We hope you will join us for this special affair. Please RSVP to 508-278-5200 or, BY OCTOBER 25 for food planning.


Patrick-Murray Administration Celebrates Funding To Support The Blackstone Valley Bike Path
The MA Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) issued a press release highlighting ongoing design and construction of the long-awaited Massachusetts section of the Blackstone Valley Bike Path.Blackstone Valley Bike Path in Rhode Island Construction is expected to begin on Section 1, Millville to the RI border, in the spring of 2012. The announcement was made at the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge.


Conservation Law Foundation Challenges EPA Wastewater Permit to Restore Water Quality in MA & RI
The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) has filed an appeal in federal court alleging that the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit granted to the Upper Blackstone Water Pollution Abatement District is in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. The permit issued in August 2008 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows nitrogen levels in treated water released by the plant of 5 milligrams per liter. The CLF challenge states that the limits put on allowable nitrogen levels are not sufficient to meet state water quality standards.

According to the CLF press release (September 28, 2010), “The Upper Blackstone Water Pollution Abatement District is one of the largest wastewater treatment facilities in New England, serving Worcester, MA and several surrounding communities. The facility discharges over 50 million gallons of nitrogen-laden water every day into the Blackstone River, which flows south through Massachusetts into the Rhode Island portion of the Blackstone, then the Seekonk River, and ultimately Narragansett Bay. Excessive nitrogen has caused severe degradation of all the impacted water bodies, including toxic algae blooms, widespread loss of eel grass meadows – critical habitat for fish and other marine life – and even massive fish kills.”

The full text of the CLF press release can be found here.
Also see a recent article in the Providence Journal.


New England EPA Chief Urges Including Runoff Prevention in Road Design
Speaking at the Blackstone River User’s Conference, last month, Curt Spalding, EPA Regional Administrator for New England, urged the use of methods of building roads and parking lots that would protect rivers from contamination by runoff and increase the ability of areas around rivers to absorb heavy rains.

Check out this Providence Journal article.



October - National Energy Awareness Month  info
10/24 4th Annual Blackstone Valley Riverways Cleanup  
11/6 BRWA Annual Member Appreciation Event and Business Meeting 5:30-8PM  RSVP
11/13 BRC Water Quality Sampling
11/15 America Recycles Day   info



Spaulding R. Aldrich Memorial Recreation Area Dedicated
On Sunday, October 3, a dedication ceremony was held for the Spaulding R. Aldrich Memorial Recreation Area, in honor of a dedicated public servant and past president of Blackstone Valley Heritage Homecoming, Inc. The Recreation Area is located in Northbridge, on Church St. Extension, between the Blackstone River and Blackstone Canal. The ceremony included the unveiling of the dedication sign, remarks by Senator Richard T. Moore, and a reception at the Heritage State Park Visitor’s Center at River Bend Farm.

Spaulding Aldrich was a former BRWA board member. Current board member Maggie Plasse remembers “He knew a lot of history about the Blackstone Valley, Northbridge in particular. If we had questions about past issues in Northbridge, Spaulding always knew the answer and a story to go with it.”

The Recreation Area is a fitting remembrance of his dedication to the town of Northbridge and the Blackstone Valley.



Charting New Waters-A Call to Action to Address U.S. Freshwater Challenges
The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread issued a call to action aimed at heading off a national crisis in water quality and supply. The report, Charting New Waters: A Call to Action to Address U.S. Freshwater Challenges, is the result of a 2-year collaboration of representatives from business, non-governmental organizations, agriculture, academia, government, foundations and communities. The goal of the effort is to ensure the sustainability & resilience of our nation’s freshwater resources.

Quoting from the reports Executive Summary: “Our growing population and changing environmental conditions are driving the nation toward inevitable and difficult freshwater management decisions.”

The Summary lists four reasons for immediate action:
  • Healthy and livable communities need clean and adequate freshwater;

  • Reliable freshwater supplies are critical to U.S. economic security;

  • Freshwater ecosystems have intrinsic value and are fundamental to our natural heritage and economic well-being; and

  • Ecosystems can experience abrupt, nonlinear change.

The Foundation offers national leaders several recommendations summarized briefly below.
  1. Improve coordination of management across scales and sectors
  2. Enhance effectiveness of existing regulatory tools
  3. Promote efficient, environmentally wise water management, use and delivery
  4. Ensure decision making is based on sound science and data
  5. Employ a long-range adaptive approach to planning and management
  6. Account for the full cost of water, and invest in sustainable water infrastructure
  7. Educate the public about challenges and solutions
  8. Develop and validate methods for freshwater ecosystem services markets
The report was released last month and was presented to the Obama Administration at a meeting of federal agencies convened by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

For a copy of the full report and more information, visit the Johnson Foundation Charting New Waters 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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