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About Us

Who We Are | Making Connections | Team Accomplishments | Additional Watershed Activities

Who We Are

The Massachusetts Watershed Initiative (MWI) was a broad partnership of state and federal agencies, watershed associations, businesses, municipal officials and individuals who work together to improve the quality of the river corridors, drinking water, wetlands, wildlife, and other natural resources in the Commonwealth’s 27 major watersheds. The MWI was started in 1994 and eliminated in 2003.
The MWI Nashua River Watershed Team worked closely with municipalities, land trusts, citizens, and businesses. It was led by JoAnne Carr and included representatives from the following organizations and agencies (some of which have changed their names since 2003).
Nashua River Watershed Association: Founded in 1969, the NRWA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of the watershed’s natural resources. The NRWA serves as an educator, advocate, steward, and technical resource. The NRWA conducts a volunteer water quality monitoring program, facilitates the permanent protection of priority lands, and provides resource-based planning tools through the Bill Farnsworth Conservation Clearinghouse at the River Resource Center. The Association also offers watershed education for adults and youth, including an on-water River Classroom program. Team Contact: Elizabeth Ainsley Campbell, (978) 448-0299 (Groton),
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection: The state’s largest environmental agency, DEP is responsible for regulating clean air and water; the safe management and cleanup of solid and hazardous waste; and the protection of water resources. DEP’s Bureau of Resource Protection includes regional specialists in drinking water, wastewater, wetlands, and municipal assistance. A separate unit, the Division of Watershed Management, oversees water quality monitoring, NPDES permitting, the 303d list, and the development of five-year assessment reports for each major watershed in the Commonwealth. Team Contacts: Warren Kimball, (508) 767-2879 (BRP-CERO, Worcester), and Rick Dunn (508) 767-2874 (BRP-DWM, Worcester),
Metropolitan District Commission: The MDC was created in 1893 to oversee the Metropolitan Park System. It now maintains more than 19,000 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and urban parklands in eastern Massachusetts, and a 120,000-acre watershed and reservoir system that includes Wachusett Watershed in the Nashua River Basin. Managed jointly with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, this MDC water system provides consumers with more than 100 billion gallons of water annually. Team Contact: Pat Austin, (508) 792-7423 x204 (West Boylston),
Massachusetts Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Environmental Law Enforcement: DFWELE is responsible for managing Massachusetts’ wildlife species and marine and freshwater fisheries. It is also home to the Riverways Program, which provides community assistance for river corridor protection. In addition, DFWELE is responsible for protecting rare and endangered species and for enforcing state laws related to fishing, hunting, boating, recreational vehicles, and illegal dumping. Team Contact: Cindy Delpapa, (617) 626-1545 (Boston),
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management: Best known for its management of the Commonwealth’s state parks and forests, DEM also houses the state’s Office of Water Resources. This office collects and analyzes data on precipitation, groundwater levels, and streamflow in order to establish minimum streamflow thresholds below which future water withdrawals would be prohibited. DEM is also active in greenways planning and waterfront protection. Team Contact: Linda Marler, (617) 626-1384 (Boston),
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: EPA is the federal agency responsible for protecting public health and safeguarding and improving the natural environment -- air, water, and land -- by implementing and enforcing the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and other national legislation. EPA’s New England Office works closely with state agencies to develop statewide and place-specific environmental goals and strategies. Team Contact: Mary Jo Feuerbach, (617) 918-1578 (Boston),
Montachusett Regional Planning Commission: As the regional planning agency serving the largest number of communities in the Nashua River Basin, MRPC has prepared a Regional Growth Plan for its 15 cities and towns in the watershed: Ashburnham, Ashby, Ayer, Clinton, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Harvard, Lancaster, Leominster, Lunenburg, Shirley, Sterling, Townsend, and Westminster. The plan addresses the effects of growth on these communities and recommend tools to properly manage growth with an emphasis on protection of the watershed’s natural resources. Team Contact: Amanda Amory, (978) 345-7376 x2206 (Fitchburg),
Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission: One of 13 regional planning agencies in Massachusetts, CMRPC provides planning services to 40 communities in Worcester County, including four towns in the Nashua River Basin: Boylston, Holden, Princeton, and West Boylston. CMRPC assists these communities on issues of regional growth, transportation planning, land use planning, economic development, cartography, and grants management. Team Contact: Bill Scanlan, (508) 756-7717 (Worcester),
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority: Best known for its clean up of Boston Harbor, the MWRA was established as an independent authority by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1984. Its mission is to deliver water and wastewater services to 61 cities and towns with a combined population of 2.5 million. The MWRA assists the MDC in protecting water quality in the Quabbin, Ware, and Wachusett watersheds to ensure a safe drinking water supply. The MWRA is also responsible for updating and building new facilities required by federal environmental mandates. Team Contact: Pam Heidell, (617) 788-1102 (Boston)
Natural Resources Conservation Service: Formerly the Soil Conservation Service, this office within the U.S. Department of Agriculture serves as the nation’s technical agency dedicated to the wise use of soil, water, and related resources. Through 16 locally organized and operated conservation districts in Massachusetts, NRCS provides technical assistance to individuals, groups, organizations, and units of government in conserving and managing their natural resources. Team Contact: Ron Thompson, (508) 829-4477 x3 (Holden),
Office of Technical Assistance for Toxics Use Reduction: A nonregulatory agency within EOEA, OTA provides manufacturers of all sizes with free, confidential assistance on opportunities to reduce the use of toxic materials or generation of toxic byproducts. In addition to protecting public health and the environment, a toxics use reduction strategy strengthens Massachusetts businesses by improving process efficiency and by lowering the costs and liabilities associated with toxic material use. Team Contact: Marina Gayl, (617) 626-1077 (Boston),
Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture: DFA promotes and enhances the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Among its areas of responsibility, DFA administers the Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program, which has protected more than 40,000 acres of prime farmland in Massachusetts, including 2,588 acres in the Nashua River Basin. DFA also regulates the use of pesticides and works with farmers to improve markets for their products. Team Contact: Bill Blanchard, (617) 626-1709 (Boston),
The MWI Nashua Team is also working with stakeholders in the Nashua River Basin’s seven New Hampshire communities.

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Making Connections
The MWI Nashua River Team connected with each of the municipalities, the many local land trusts and other conservation groups, numerous businesses, and interested individuals across the watershed through a variety of ways. The Nashua River Watershed Association's "Communities Connected by Water" program, funded in part through EOEA, enabled the Association and the Nashua River Team to broaden awareness of the Massachusetts Watershed Initiative and increase involvement in Team projects. Four examples include:

  • Fitchburg Stream Team, providing local stewardship of the North Nashua River; Shoreline Surveys conducted by groups in other municipalities
  • Volunteer Water Quality Monitors, sampling 35 sites in the watershed
  • Conservation Commission gatherings to promote cross-boundaries dialogue
  • Nashua River Watershed Regional Land Trust Alliance gatherings to promote shared efforts among for over a dozen local and regional land trusts

Public meetings in each of the four main sub-basins, Open Houses, News
Releases, Surveys, and E-Mail notices have all helped watershed stakeholders stay in touch with the Team. Additionally, over the last few years the Association has held close to four dozen watershed education sessions or workshop to support the Team's goals and increase active participation. The wide range of topics include:

"How to Conduct an Ecological and Habitat Inventory" with Jeff Collins
"Lakes and Ponds" with Jim Straub and Carol Hildreth
"Limited Development" with Jed Mannis and Peter Creighton
"Rare Plants" with Paul Somers
"Smart Growth" with Allison Walsh
"Stormwater" with Nancy Reed

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Team Accomplishments Over the Past Five Years (1998-2003)
The Massachusetts Watershed Initiative Nashua Team brought state, federal, regional and local groups together to better protect the land and water resources of the Nashua Watershed. The Team also worked closely with the Nashua River Watershed Association and the Devens' communities on the "Communities Connected by Water" program. Among the many activities of the Nashua Team's community partners, the following projects represent agency and organization support from the Team.

Data integration — a GIS library with information including our NH communities has been developed. This library is useful for outreach and education programs and further analysis.

Impervious cover calculations — completed on a sub-basin basis using existing land use covers, impervious cover was calculated to use as an indicator of water quality and land use management techniques.

Hydrologic Assessment — an important piece of work for improving our understanding of water supply and flow issues in the watershed was completed. The study also included evaluating criteria for identifying flow stressed systems that include habitat, wildlife and water quantity/quality values.

Water Supply Planning — work is now underway to follow-up with those sub-basins identified as facing flow stressed situations in the near future to develop water supply and management plans as "inter-community" efforts.

The above two flow-related projects are geared to helping local decision-makers in the watershed evaluate water supply plans and land development proposals. While not at a critical crossroad for water supply demand today, Nashua Watershed communities should be aware of the delicate balance between providing a high quality resource for human & animal life and the growth & development which will inevitably occur.

Focus Areas for Wildlife Habitat Protection — completed by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, Ecological Extension Service, this study took a landscape view of habitat and bio-diversity protection opportunities in the Nashua. This watershed-wide assessment helped to focus efforts for several locally based assessments in watershed communities. The NRWA, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and EOEA/MWI supported these assessments. This work helps the Team identify priority sites for protection.

Water Quality Sampling Plan — also completed on a sub-basin basis, this project evaluated water quality issues, identified sampling needs and areas for cooperation. A Memorandum of Understanding was developed for those groups working in the watershed, to facilitate partnerships and levels of cooperation in already funded program areas.

Water Quality Improvements — work is also underway to provide targeted technical assistance for four watershed communities for stormwater and erosion controls. These communities will be selected based on need and priority of non-point issues within the sub-basin.

Outreach, Technical Assistance and Education Programs — outreach was done through the Communities Connected by Water grant awarded to the NRWA. This program included the development of the Nashua River Watershed Land Trust Alliance and the Conservation Commission "Interest Group". Work also includes the development of the Nashua Watershed resource protection and bylaw database.

Building Local Capacity — work is complete on the Model Bylaw Project for the Nashua Watershed "Protecting Natural Resources and Planning for Growth". This database and tool-box is available on CD for watershed planners and those working on resource protection strategies throughout the Nashua. There is a general overview of model bylaws in the first part; part two includes actual bylaws from around the watershed and statewide accompanied by pointers for the best ways to implement them.

Agricultural Inventory — development of a watershed-wide database of farms and farm operations for the Natural Resources and Conservation Service use in outreach to farmers for developing farm plans and participation in the Agricultural Preservation Restriction program or other conservation and land protection programs.

Implementation of Agricultural Best Management Practices — several farms in the watershed benefited from a one-time state match for federal funding to put in place practices to protect and enhance the Nashua River's water resources.

Over the past years the Nashua River Watershed Association and the Department of Environmental Protection developed a program and was funded for 'SMART" monitoring. This partnership extended to federal partners as well and established strategic monitoring stations throughout the watershed.

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Additional Watershed Activities undertaken by MWI Partners and Others
(partial list)

Ongoing Water Quality Sampling

  • Metropolitan District Commission
  • Nashua River Watershed Association — Volunteer Monitoring
  • Department of Environmental Management - Lakes and Ponds Program
  • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection/Central Regional Office - SMART Monitoring
  • Massachusetts Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement - Fish population studies
  • US Environmental Protection Agency — Toxicity Sampling
  • New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services — Volunteer Lakes and Ponds Monitoring Program
  • Local School Districts
  • Local Lake and Pond Associations
  • Stream Teams, Shoreline Surveys
  • Monoosnoc Brook Greenway Project

Completed Planning Efforts

  • Growth Planning for the Nashua Watershed — Regional Planning Agencies in Massachusetts and New Hampshire
  • Vision 2020 — Nashua River Watershed Association
  • Public Access and Watershed Management Plans (Wachusett)- Metropolitan District Commission

Outreach and Technical Assistance

  • Team Open Houses — general information and updates
  • Technical Assistance Program — MDC; planning boards and conservation commissions
  • Pure Water Stewardship — outreach to landowners for water quality protection
  • NRCS and the Conservation Districts — agriculture and conservation commissions
  • Nashua River Land Trust Alliance — watershed wide representation of land trusts
  • NRWA Interest Groups — conservation commissions

Highlights of Events and Conferences supported by the Team and Partners

  • Groton Greenway and Nashua Team Riverfest;
  • Support of Watershed Week and Bio-diversity Days;
  • NRWA working with DEM Forester to successfully nominate the Expansion of the Nashua River Greenway Forest Legacy Area;
  • Development of the Squannassit Preserve and subsequent preparation for nomination of the Squannassit and Petapawag ACECs;
  • EPA/Trust for Public Land Source Water Protection Demonstration Project for the Squannacook and Nissitissit Rivers;
  • On-going meetings/forums of the Nashua Watershed Land Trust Alliance;
  • EPA Phase II Stormwater Workshops and Training
  • NRWA Watershed Conference - Growth and Planning in the Nashua River Watershed
  • Devens Communities Regional Growth Plan and Community Preservation Buildout Presentation
  • DEP outreach to local Boards of Health;
  • NRWA forums through the River Resource Center's Bill Farnsworth Conservation Clearinghouse;
  • Wachusett Greenways and MDC extension of the West Boylston/Holden Rail Trail;
  • DEM working to develop the Ayer to Groton Rail Trail;
  • Workshops and meetings on ongoing projects for water quality, water quantity, habitat assessments.

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