BOSTON – To celebrate Earth Week 2023, the Healey-Driscoll Administration today announced that $500,000 in Water Quality Monitoring Grant Program funding has been awarded to five coalitions and four individual non-profit watershed organizations to monitor water quality in rivers, lakes and ponds, and coastal resources across the Commonwealth. The grant program, administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), will support waterbody monitoring efforts in eastern Massachusetts, the Connecticut River Valley, Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod, and the Berkshires.
“Some of the most direct impacts of climate change can be observed in Massachusetts waterways,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper. “The Healey-Driscoll Administration has prioritized investing in scientific partnerships to ensure we have the robust data we need to protect our critical water resources.”
The resulting water quality data will help MassDEP to implement program requirements under the federal Clean Water Act. The grant program is available to eligible non-profit organizations, including watershed groups, lake and pond associations, and federally recognized Tribal nations within the Commonwealth with expertise for conducting surface water quality monitoring projects.
“MassDEP has long partnered with regional watershed coalitions and non-profit organizations to maintain the most current assessment of the state of Massachusetts water bodies,” said MassDEP Commissioner Bonnie Heiple. “This collaboration positions the Commonwealth to continue to be a leader in watershed management as we face a changing climate. I applaud the work of these essential stakeholders and the work of our staff to provide these important investments.”
The grant recipients and project awards are:
Organizations: The Neponset River Watershed Association, in partnership with the Charles River Watershed Association, the Center for Student Coastal Research, the Mystic River Watershed Association, the Nashua River Watershed Association, the North/South/MassBays, OARS for the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers, and Lake Archer Association.
Funding Amount: $90,869
Summary: The coalition will monitor water quality in eastern Massachusetts, which will include two technical training workshops for coalition partners. The funds will help to purchase equipment and supplies and support travel, staff salaries and external laboratory analyses to monitor for bacteria, cyanobacteria, nutrients, chlorophyll, conductivity, and turbidity.
Organizations: The Housatonic Valley Association, in partnership with the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, and the Hoosic River Watershed Association.
Funding Amount: $48,605
Summary: The coalition will conduct water quality monitoring in the Housatonic and Hoosic River watersheds, which will involve refining a data viewer to support data dissemination and outreach. Funds will be used to purchase equipment and supplies and to support staff time and subcontractor work to monitor for temperature, conductivity, E. coli, dissolved oxygen, total nitrogen, and chlorine.
Organizations: The Connecticut River Watershed Council, Inc., d/b/a, the Connecticut River Conservancy, in partnership with the Deerfield River Watershed Association, the Fort River Watershed Association, and the Chicopee4Rivers Watershed Council.
Funding Amount: $66,500
Summary: The coalition will perform water quality monitoring in the Massachusetts portion of the Connecticut River watershed in conjunction with a program to engage with Environmental Justice populations. The funds will purchase equipment and supplies, and support travel and staff salaries to monitor for E. coli and nitrogen.
Organizations: The Center for Coastal Studies, in partnership with the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition, and the Dennis Conservation Land Trust.
Funding Amount: $61,360
Summary: The coalition will monitor water quality in Cape Cod Bay, Nantucket Sound, and their associated aquatic systems, with a focus on impaired waterbodies. The funds will help to purchase equipment and supplies and support staff salaries to conduct water quality monitoring for dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, salinity, plant pigments, turbidity, nutrients, stream discharge, and chlorophyll.
Organizations: The Ipswich River Watershed Association, in partnership with the Parker River Clean Water Association, the Chebacco Lake and Watershed Association, the Friends of Hood Pond, Inc., and the Martins Pond Reclamation Study Committee.
Funding Amount: $55,082
Summary: The coalition will monitor water quality in streams, rivers, and ponds in the Ipswich, Parker, and Essex River watersheds. The funds will purchase equipment and supplies and support travel and staff salaries to monitor for dissolved oxygen, pH, chloride, conductivity, temperature, nutrients, chlorophyll, and bacteria.
Organization: The Deerfield River Watershed Chapter of Trout Unlimited – Chapter #349.
Funding Amount: $26,007
Summary: The chapter is developing a new, permanent, volunteer-driven water quality monitoring program for the tributaries to the Deerfield River. The funds will purchase equipment to monitor for pH, alkalinity, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, temperature, turbidity, nutrients, and flow.
Organization: The Blackstone River Coalition.
Funding Amount: $23,410
Summary: The coalition will use this partial award to monitor the Blackstone River watershed. Funds will purchase equipment and supplies and support staff salaries to monitor for temperature, dissolved oxygen, water depth, aesthetics, nutrients, total suspended solids, conductivity, bacteria, and stream flow.
Organization: The Farmington River Watershed Association.
Funding Amount: $13,378
Summary: The association will use this partial award to monitor surface waters in the Massachusetts portion of the Farmington River watershed. Funds will purchase equipment and supplies and support staff salaries to monitor for bacteria and chloride.
Organization: The Buzzards Bay Coalition.
Funding Amount: $114,789
Summary: The coalition will use this partial award to continue a recently developed, targeted monitoring program in Buttonwood Brook and Apponagansett Bay. The funds will purchase equipment and supplies and support staff salaries to monitor for discharge, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, temperature, salinity, pH, bacteria, water clarity, and nutrients.
“On Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, impaired estuaries and embayments threaten our ecosystem, livelihood, and way of life. I’m thrilled that Provincetown’s Center for Coastal Studies, in partnership with the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition and the Dennis Conservation Land Trust, have been awarded over $61,000 to support water quality monitoring in Cape Cod Bay, Nantucket Sound, and related water bodies,” said State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro). “Successful water quality preservation and mitigation require informed stewardship. These monitoring efforts will help MassDEP implement vital programs to support our aquatic environment.”
“Our constituents and communities deserve clean water,” said State Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox). “I'm grateful for MassDEP's continued commitment to helping organizations in the 3rd Berkshire District collect the information they need to maintain a high standard of water quality and look forward to seeing the continued partnership of The Housatonic Valley Association, the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, and the Hoosic River Watershed Association.”
The $500,000 in available funds will be used to facilitate diverse activities for direct monitoring, capacity-building activities, and actions to develop regional and long-term monitoring programs. The Water Quality Monitoring Grant Program was designed specifically to promote collaboration and to provide tangible benefits for Environmental Justice populations. The program addresses surface water quality protection and restoration through monitoring, outreach, and education. Over the last five years, the Walter Quality Monitoring Grant Program has provided more than $1,150,000 in grants to organizations across the Commonwealth. For more information on MassDEP’s water quality monitoring and assessment programs, please visit the agency’s Watershed Planning Program webpage.
MassDEP’s mission is to protect and enhance the Commonwealth’s natural resources – air, water, and land – to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of all people, and to ensure a clean and safe environment for future generations. In carrying out this mission, MassDEP commits to address and advance environmental justice and equity for all people of the Commonwealth; to provide meaningful, inclusive opportunities for people to participate in agency decisions that affect their lives; and to ensure a diverse workforce that reflects the communities we serve.