IRWA awarded state grant for water quality monitoring

Wednesday April 27, 2022

Photo: Adam Swift / The Town Common. From left, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), IRWA Executive Director Wayne Castonguay, MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg and State Representative Jamie Belsito (D-Topsfield)

IPSWICH – MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg joined local officials and environmental leaders last week along the Ipswich River to celebrate a grant to help local watershed coalitions monitor water quality.

The Ipswich River Watershed Association, in partnership with the Parker River Clean Water Association and the Chebacco Lake Watershed Association received $38,306 for the water monitoring efforts. The water quality data gathered as a result of the grant will help MassDEP implement program requirements under the federal Clean Water Act.

“MassDEP regularly collects high-quality data to assess the health of our surface waters across the Commonwealth, and these grants help to increase and supplement that important data set,” said Suuberg. “Regional watershed coalitions and non-profit groups have been conducting great field work for many years, and these grants will continue to support and enhance the monitoring efforts through the purchase of critical sampling equipment and supplies.”

The grant will allow the Ipswich River Watershed Association and its partners to collect data on chloride, nutrients, chlorophyll-a, and bacteria and perform continuous dissolved oxygen and temperature monitoring in the Parker, Ipswich, and Essex rivers watersheds, and to help purchase equipment and supplies to support staff activities for monitoring, training, and analysis.

“With thousands of lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams in the Commonwealth the value of regional efforts to monitor water quality is paramount and that is why I am glad that the Baker-Polito Administration has sustained this important grant program to support this critical mission propelled by the Ipswich River Watershed Association, the Parker River Clean Water Association, the Chebacco Lake Watershed Association, and other organizations across the state,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “This grant will provide them with tools and resources to put local leadership into action.”

State Representative Jamie Belsito (D-Topsfield), said she was excited to hear about the money going towards the monitoring of crucial watersheds in the 4th Essex District.

“We must do everything we can to ensure that our water is healthy and safe for our residents,” she said. “I am glad to see the MassDEP’s allocation of these necessary funds to the Ipswich River Watershed Association, Parker River Clean Water Association, and the Chebacco Lake Watershed associations. Our watershed associations do tremendous work on a daily basis monitoring, caring, and advocating for our vital watersheds.”

Watersheds across Massachusetts must be assessed every two years, and MassDEP supplements its own surface water quality dataset with data collected by key stakeholders. Internal and certain external data meeting MassDEP’s acceptance criteria are used as the basis for assessing surface water quality in accordance with requirements under the federal Clean Water Act.

“Our partnership is grateful for the opportunity to monitor the water quality of our rivers, streams, and lakes,” said Ipswich River Watershed Association Executive Director Wayne Castonguay. “We are especially excited to be focusing on new monitoring sites in areas with Environmental Justice populations, engaging volunteers from these communities.”

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