Growth impacting Taunton
MIKE STUCKA Gazette Staff Writer
BRIDGEWATER - The Taunton River basin
is unusually intact, but rapid development threatens to wreck the river's
life, environmental researchers said this week in discussions organized by
the Taunton Wild & Scenic River Study group.
projects have brought scientists up the Taunton
River as far as the Segregansett River and the Weir
Village, while a newly expanded research
project from upstream has brought researchers down toward Taunton-based tributaries
including the Three Mile
River and the Mill
Bowden, an aquatic ecologist with The Nature Conservancy, said the Taunton River
is host to some high-quality habitats and rare species that may be threatened
by new development and water withdrawals.
overall health of this watershed is good, but the estuary has problems,"
of the growth could put greater strain on Brockton's
sewer plant, which Bridgewater State College researcher Kevin Curry said accounted
for 75 percent of some of the chemicals polluting a Taunton River
tributary, the Matfield River.
Officials have proposed expanding the plant.
think we really need regional wastewater planning," Curry said. "Otherwise
we're going to lose the Upper
to a draft study that Curry is helping prepare, excessive amounts of nutrients,
including phosphorous and nitrate, are the most urgent problem in the headwaters.
Curry said he also found significant - but lower - levels of nitrates in the
Three Mile River,
which runs eight miles from Norton to Taunton.
Fred SaintOurs worked with Tim Watts and other volunteers
to check some of the insect life along the Taunton River.
While other researchers were looking at where the Taunton
River expanded into Mount Hope
was studying streams small enough to walk across, some of which were not large
enough to be named or even appear on maps. SaintOurs
found great diversity in the small streams, while he also found the first
"Dragonhunter" dragonfly ever found in
at the opposite end of the Taunton
River is Roland Samimy, a UMASS-Dartmouth researcher who is working on the
Massachusetts Estuaries Project. His monitoring of Mount Hope
Bay and farther up the
river show problems. He found high chlorophyl
and nitrogen levels, while oxygen levels were worse than poor in spots.
Bay sucks, basically,
from a habitat point of view," he said.
Samimy is collecting plenty of data that will eventually be used
to model the Taunton
River and its pollutants,
which could lead to a prescription of managing and monitoring the river. Individual
streams that feed the Taunton River
have their stewards, while towns have been trying to look after their section
of the Taunton River.
Nothing has tied them together to care for the Taunton River,
Bay needs a champion,"
results of the presentations at Bridgewater State College will be discussed
at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow in the offices of Southeastern Regional Planning &
Economic Development District, 88 Broadway, Taunton.
more information, see www.tauntonriver.org.
ŠThe Taunton Gazette 2005