Blackstone River Watershed Association
Blackstone River Watershed Association
In This Issue


The Watershed & Us

BRWA Presents Watershed Model

BRWA River Access Program Update

Thanks to Race Sponsors



Summer Concert Series at River Bend Farm

NPS Study Recommends National Park in Blackstone Valley

Sewage Spill at Woonsocket Wastewater Treatment Facility

Upton - Sweetwilliam Farm Preserved

Northbridge - Polyfoam Agrees To Clean Air Settlement


Oil Spill-Yellowstone River, Montana

Energy Star Recognizes Most Energy-Efficient Products

BRWA Online
About the BRWA


Issue 19 July 2011

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.

George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage


Outdoor Exercise in the Summer
As I’m writing this, we are experiencing what is hopefully the hottest day of the year. In addition, the EPA has issued a prediction of unhealthy air quality. Perhaps it’s a good time to remind folks who chose to exercise outdoors (and where better?) to be aware of heat and air quality conditions and plan their workouts accordingly.

A check of the local air quality at can help you plan when to exercise. This is especially important for people with heart and lung issues, older adults and children as these groups are affected at lower points on the Air Quality Index scale. Adequate hydration is always important, but more so as the temperature rises. Drink before and during exercise and watch for any signs of heat exhaustion:
  • Headache, dizziness, or fainting
  • Weakness and wet skin
  • Irritability or confusion
  • Thirst, nausea, or vomiting
  • Extreme fatigue or "jelly legs"
In general, exercise in moderation and stay safe when the temperature rises.

To improve your outdoor workout and the environment, bring along a trash bag and collect any litter you find along the way. Pause while running, walking, bicycling or whatever, take in your surroundings, make a positive impact and set an example for others.


The Watershed & Us
Join us on August 13, 1:30-3:00p, at River Bend Farm, as we share information on things we can do in our yard and garden to reduce waste and protect the watershed. In a series of short demonstrations the BRWA will illustrate how the watershed functions, how human activity is connected to the health of the watershed and how we can take simple steps to improve it. We will be offering lots of tips and strategies that you can easily incorporate in your daily activities to help protect the environmental resources in your yard and in your neighborhood including how to:
  • Compost your food scraps and yard debris and get rich, organic soil – for free
  • Use a rain barrel to capture rain water for landscaping – conserve water and save money
  • Adjust downspouts to divert precious rain water back into the ground, not down the storm drain
  • Minimize pollutants that can get swept up with runoff and deposited in local waterways
  • Reduce growth of aquatic invasive plants that thrive on chemicals in runoff
  • And lots more!

BRWA Education Program Presents Watershed Model
Board member Tammy Gilpatrick and volunteer Michelle Walsh presented the watershed model program to five fourth grade classrooms at the H. P. Clough Elementary School in Mendon. Although it was the last week of school, and extremely warm, the students were eager to help pollute the model and brainstorm on ways homeowners can minimize pollutants that can get swept up with runoff and deposited in local waterways. Tammy Gilpatrick & Clough Elementary students with Watershed Model
On July 20 the BRWA also presented the watershed model to over 70 children at the Northbridge Association of Churches Ecumenical Vacation Bible School. The daily offering from the children was donated to the Blackstone River Watershed Association to continue our education efforts.


BRWA River Access Program Update
The Blackstone River Portage at Rice City Pond in Uxbridge has been completed. Steps now provide easier access for paddlers to portage from above the dam to either the Canal or the River below the dam. Blackstone River Portage access steps at Rice City Pond
Construction has also begun to install stone steps at the Plummer's Landing access site upstream on the Blackstone River.

This work is being done thanks to a US Department of Transportation Trails Grant that the BRWA has received through the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.


Thanks to 35th Annual Canoe & Kayak Race Sponsors
The BRWA extends it's thanks to the following sponsors of the 35th Annual Canoe & Kayak Race:
Polyfoam Corp logo Goretti's Supermarket logo top
7/30 National Cheesecake Day (Mmmmm...cheesecake)  
**** John H Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Ranger Walkabouts Thursday Nights, June - August   info
**** Alternatives, Inc. Free Summer Concert Series Thursday Nights 6pm, July - Sept   info
8/5 - 8/8 Cumberlandfest   info
8/5 Vinyl Record Day   info
8/11 BRWA Board Meeting 6:30pm 271 Oak St., Uxbridge   info
8/12 International Beer Day   info
8/13 The Watershed & Us - River Bend Farm 1:30-3PM  
8/13 Smokey the Bear Birthday Celebration-River Bend Farm  
8/13 BRC Water Quality Sampling



Summer Concert Series at River Bend Farm
The Blackstone Valley Heritage Homecoming Committee's annual summer concert series has begun at River Bend Farm.

The series is presented in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation and is supported by the towns of Blackstone, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Millbury, Northbridge and Uxbridge Cultural Councils, local agencies supported by Massachusetts Cultural Council.

For these outdoor concerts, bring your own lawn chairs or blankets to sit on while you enjoy the music. Concerts begin at 3:30 p.m. on Sundays, and are free.

July 24: Battle Green Brass Quintet and introducing: Stay Tuned
August 7: Worcester Men of Song
August 14: Heritage String Band
August 21: Jesse Fontaine Trio
August 28: Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards

For more information, or to check the event status due to weather, please call the River Bend Farm Visitors' Center at (508) 278-7604.


NPS Study Recommends National Park in Blackstone Valley
On July 18, 2011 the National Park Service released a Special Resource Study of the Blackstone River Valley. The study was conducted to determine if sites in the Blackstone Valley would be eligible for inclusion as a permanent unit of the National Park System.

The study presents three management options. Under management option 1, no new unit of the National Park System would be proposed. The John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor would continue to be recognized as a federally designated national heritage corridor. The Corridor Commission would continue to have authority and provide planning support and technical assistance as long as they are authorized and funded.

The Corridor was set to be cut off from federal funding in October 2011, but Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment that oversees the NPS, secured language in an appropriations bill for the current fiscal year that extends its eligibility a year beyond that while Congress decides its fate.

Under management Option 2, the Old Slater Mill National Historic Landmark District would become a unit of the National Park System.

Management option 3 proposes that a new unit of the National Park System would be created by an act of Congress. The new unit would include specific nationally significant sites and districts including Old Slater Mill National Historic Landmark District, Pawtucket, RI, Slatersville Historic District, North Smithfield, RI, Ashton Historic District, Cumberland, RI, Whitinsville Historic District, Northbridge, MA, Hopedale Village Historic District, Hopedale, MA, the Blackstone River and its tributaries and the Blackstone Canal.

The National Park Service has identified Option 3 as the environmentally preferred alternative.

To download a copy of the Special Resource Study, get information about making comments on the report, and see details about upcoming public meetings on August 10 and August 16 about the study visit the NPS site at

To find information and ways to support the establishment of a National Park in the valley, visit


Sewage Spill at Woonsocket Wastewater Treatment Facility
An apparent electrical failure at the Woonsocket Wastewater Treatment Facility on June 30 caused an overflow of partially-treated sewage from containment basins about 100 yards from the Blackstone River.

Based on information gathered from wastewater staff and known flow rates into the facility, The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) estimated that a maximum volume of 162,000 gallons of wastewater could have entered the Blackstone River. However, given the distance to the riverbank and soil percolation, the actual volume entering the river may have been significantly less. Because of the potential threat to public health, DEP used this worst case scenario as the basis of an advisory against recreational contact along the river in Rhode Island and to avoid fish consumption. The advisory was in effect until sundown on Saturday, July 2.

It is unclear how much, if any, sewage entered the Blackstone River. DEM believes that some wastewater did enter the river via a storm drain and down a river bank. It appears that plant personnel were able to collect the bulk of the spill. Based on reports from the plant operator, Veolia Water, Woonsocket Public Works Director Sheila McGauvran believes no wastewater reached the river.

RI DEM will continue to investigate the incident to determine if any punitive or corrective action is required and to see what can be learned to prevent future spills.

Source material for this article:
Rhode Island DEM press release
"State, Veolia may be divided over Woonsocket wastewater spill" Valley Breeze 7/13/2011
"DEM And City Disagree On Whether Sewage Entered Blackstone" Woonsocket Patch 7/7/2011


Upton - Sweetwilliam Farm Preserved
Sweetwilliam Farm in Upton has been permanently preserved as open space and agricultural land. On June 21st, the Town of Upton purchased 63 acres of the farm and a permanent conservation restriction will be held by the Sudbury Valley Trustees. An additional 34 acres will remain under private ownership, protected by a conservation restriction jointly held by the town and the Trustees, and managed as a community-supported agriculture farm.

This action protects a historic and ecologic resource and preserves it’s agricultural heritage. It also provides trail corridor between Upton State Forest and Warren Brook Conservation Area and connects to other open space beyond. The Sudbury Valley Trustees are still seeking donations in order to raise funds to cover transaction costs and establish a stewardship endowment.

More information on the preservation of Sweetwilliam Farm can be found on the Sudbury Valley Trustees website.


Northbridge - Polyfoam Agrees To Clean Air Settlement
Polyfoam Corporation in Northbridge has agreed to strictly limit air pollution emissions from its manufacturing facility and pay a $127,500 penalty in order to settle claims by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Justice that it violated federal Clean Air laws.

The federal complaint asserts that Polyfoam miscalculated and underreported its VOC emissions from at least 2002 to the present and triggered Clean Air Act requirements for state-of-the-art pollution limits that the company failed to meet.

Under the settlement, Polyfoam will meet a strict new VOC emission limit by installing a new pollution control system that will reduce the company’s VOC emissions by about 85%.

EPA press Release
July 14th article by Michelle Bradley at



Oil Spill-Yellowstone River, Montana
Assessment and cleanup activity continues in Montana in the wake of the oil spill on the Yellowstone River earlier this month. On July 1st , a break occurred in a 12-inch pipeline carrying medium crude oil and owned by ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. Since then, the complicated process of damage assessment, cleanup plan development and determination of cause has progressed. The efforts have been hampered by high flood waters which may have been a factor in the pipeline rupture. As waters recede, crews are able to better evaluate the extent of contamination of soil, groundwater and vegetation and wildlife mortality.

As spills go, this one is relatively small but the environmental and financial costs will be high and were probably preventable. Any time potential contaminants are brought near precious, vulnerable resources, we gamble on an “acceptable” risk. As citizens, we must hold corporations, and the agencies that oversee them, accountable for ensuring that every reasonable effort is made to improve the odds in favor of protecting our waters.

Here are some links to stories and information on the Yellowstone River Spill:

Montana Official State Website
EPA Updates
"Water, air safe after oil spill; EPA says cleanup may take months"
"Search for oil-soiled wildlife continues along Yellowstone River" Billings Gazette
"Wildlife deaths increase and more crude found in debris piles in Yellowstone oil spill" Billings Gazette
"Montana’s Yellowstone River Oil Spill: The Shape of Things to Come?" onearth
"Cleaning up the Yellowstone River oil spill" American Rivers blog


New Energy Star Initiative Recognizes the Most Energy-Efficient Products
DOE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new list of the "Most Efficient" Energy Star products. The list represents the top tier of energy efficient products in several categories. See the Most Efficient 2011 products on the Energy Star 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 engage, educate and advocate for improved water quality in the Blackstone River Watershed; its objectives are to:
  • Engage the public in watershed stewardship activities,
  • Educate members, supporters and watershed residents on watershed protection strategies, 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:

Click here for back issues.