319 Project Background
The Town of Westport has long recognized that stormwater runoff and other pollution sources are important contributors to closed shellfish areas in the town, and has been working with the Town and property owners to remediate this pollution in a systematic way.
In 2007, the Town of Westport applied to the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program (BBNEP) with a request for $15,000 to prepare engineering designs to eliminate stormwater discharges at the Head of Westport that are contributing to shellfish bed closures in the East Branch of the Westport River. In consultation with the town and the Westport River Watershed Alliance, a partner and supporter of the effort, we agreed that the development of stormwater designs for this area of the town should be broken down in several distinct tasks.
BBNEP and its partners undertook a study that determined that the school/library site contribute 60% of the stormwater that enters the west side of the river at the Head of Westport. This work became the first phase of the design work to reduce stormwater discharges to this portion of the river, and it was completed in April 2009. In January 2009, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program (a unit of Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management), issued a Request for Responses for engineering services to develop stormwater treatment designs for the WestportMiddle School site. In April 2009, we hired the firm Norfolk Ram Engineering to develop the stormwater designs. Westport Town Administrator Michael Coughlin was on our selection committee and helped guide this effort on behalf of the town.
The Town, under the guidance of the BBNEP and WRWA, then applied for money to fund the construction of the stormwater treatment infrastructures at the WestportMiddle School. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (MassDEP) Section.319 Non Point Source Competitive Grant program has awarded $389,994 to the town for stormwater solutions at the WestportMiddle School complex. Under the contract, the stormwater treatment designs for the WestportMiddle School must be completed by June 30, 2014. Our goal is to erase the stormwater “footprint” of the school to the greatest extent practicable. Pollution will be treated by “biofilters” also known as “rain gardens” around the edges of parking lots. These biofilters are gardens that contain various plantings.
The Town of Westport, property owners, and citizen groups in the town have been making important progress to restore water quality the Westport River estuary. Stormwater discharges, like those on Old County Road are important contributors to water quality degradation in the river. In 2006 a stormwater project on the east side of Old County Road, consisting of a constructed wetland system, was completed. Although the facility had some flow problems last year, these problems have been corrected and stormwater is being treated.
The Remediation of stormwater discharges on the west side of the Head of the Westport is now the focus of the town, and it turns out that most of the flow to the river originates from the Middle School site. By eliminating and treating a large portion of stormwater from the school site, the stormwater runoff and pollutants going into the river will be reduced. From July to October of 2012 the first series of raingardens were built along the road the connects the elementary and middle school complexes. The construction was performed by the Westport Highway Department. WRWA organized volunteers to aid with planting the raingardens.
Three more large gardens were constructed by the Highway Department at the Middle School in the summer of 2013. The final phase of project completion will happen in 2014. The Town of Westport is working with Fay, Spofford & Thorndike, Inc. (formerly Norfolk Ram Group) and WRWA to complete the final raingardens and leach fields to prevent polluted runoff from impacting the Westport River.