Grant to fund study of causes of erosion along North River

 

Greenfield Recorder 09/04/2012, Page C03

By DIANE BRONCACCIO

Recorder Staff

COLRAIN — The Franklin Regional Council of Governments will evaluate the causes of erosion on the North River, with a $61,200 grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

This project will provide information on the causes of erosion, channel instability and habitat and water quality degradation. Long-term, cost-effective solutions will be recommended to improve both fish habitat and water quality.

The grant will be used for a geomorphic, or river formation, study that will include the fish and a physical habitat survey of the North River, as was recommended in an earlier water quality management project.

A 2004 report had identified stream bank erosion as a major source of non-point source pollution in the North River watershed. Examples of such pollution may include road dirt and grit; runoff from parking lots, farm fields, barnyards, feedlots or lawns, runoff from failing wastewater treatment systems; and runoff and leachate from construction, mining and logging operations.

“We put this application together after Tropical Storm Irene,” said Kimberly Noake MacPhee, land use and natural resources program manager for FRCOG, “but the purpose of this study is to try to get more information about the causes of erosion,” which she said might be traced back 100 years, due to human settlement patterns.

“We don’t usually expect to see the type of damage we saw from Tropical Storm Irene, but this study will help us better understand why the river behaved the way it did,” said MacPhee.

Also, she noted, the study will set a baseline of information, so that, if money for restoration efforts is available, she’ll be able to measure how much improvement takes place.

MacPhee said she wrote a similar grant for the South River in Conway, which was a pilot project. This study for the North River will be done in a similar manner.

MacPhee said the study is roughly a two-year project. FRCOG will hire a consultant, who will start background research possibly this fall or winter. The field work will begin next spring, and the study should be completed by the spring of 2014.

“The opportunity to improve aquatic habitat and water quality over the long term will translate into everyday benefits for the people of our region for years to come,” said State Rep. Paul Mark, D-Second Berkshire District.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:dbronc@recorder.com or (413) 772-0261, Ext. 277