It’s a Riverlution – Get Involved!
The Blackstone River Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone hosts many cleanups each year with the assistance of dozens of volunteers who are willing to roll up their sleeves, get dirty and get wet – volunteers include scouts, schools, community organizations, businesses and more! Chances are there is a cleanup happening soon near you!
UPCOMING CLEANUP PROJECTS:
Blackstone River bikeway**
My Mile: Adopt a mile of the Blackstone River bikeway**
Heritage Park cleanup*
Invasive Plants Remediation*
Pratt Dam* – COMPLETED: July 6, 2019
River Island Park cleanup*
Scotts Pond cleanup* – COMPLETED: this cleanup was our 2019 Earth Day project
Teachable Moments – contact Judy at BRWCFOB@gmail.com if you have a topic you would like to present to our group or if you are interested in hearing about a particular topic.
Valley Falls Pond cleanup*
Water Quality Monitoring – ongoing through November 2019
Yellow Bag Day** – COMPLETED: was held on April 13, 2019; this year we focused on a section of Albion Road
** these cleanups can be undertaken on your own after your orientation
* for these cleanups you will work alongside BRWC folks
New England Hydropower Company, LLC (NEHC)
New England Hydropower Company, LLC develops, operates, owns and manages small-scale regional and local renewable hydropower facilities using legacy dams throughout New England and the United States. They provide the renewable energy market with a fresh, environmentally sound, fish and wildlife-safe approach to small-scale hydropower generation. They are seeking to install modern, small-scale “Archimedes Screw Turbine (AST)” renewable hydropower systems at two locations on the Blackstone River.
Based on a centuries old concept, the inherent qualities of Archimedes-based screw generators enable the development of renewable, clean electric power. They turn slowly, about 30 turns per minute. The mass of the water turns the tilted screw. The flow of that mass is controlled by hydraulically driven sluice gates. If fish enter the top of the machine, they simply ride down the screw in a large tub of water and swim out at the bottom, largely undisturbed. Turbulence at the outflow of the screw generator is minimal due to the fact that the water is not accelerated or diverted in these run-of–river generating sites.
A gearbox at the top of the screw drives the generator which produces standard three phase power for either the grid or direct users as state distribution laws allow. The entire facility is linked to an electronic monitoring and control system that runs automatically but communicates to an operator whenever requested. Safety, shutdown and management protocols are strict and efficient.
NEHC stated that typically construction will take four to six months and would occur during a low flow period for the river in June or July through September. Both dams would be worked on simultaneously. The two sites will provide enough electricity to power the equivalent of about 800 homes. The amount of kilowatt hours will be just under 5,000,000 per year.
BRWC/FOB will provide more information as it becomes available.
Peterson / Puritan Superfund Site
BRWC/FOB Receives an EPA Technical Assistance Grant (“TAG”)
Late in 2010, BRWC/FOB was awarded an EPA Technical Assistance Grant to enable its oversight of cleanup activities at the Peterson/Puritan Superfund site, an area encompassing approximately two miles of mixed industrial and residential property in Lincoln and Cumberland. The TAG funds provided for the hiring of an independent technical advisor to help the Council understand and evaluate the information to be developed by the EPA during the cleanup process. Under the agreement, BRWC/FOB is expected to disseminate information to the general public through such venues as meetings, newsletters and this website. View the map of the Peterson Puritan Superfund Site.
UPDATE AS OF 6/2019:
A report on the Peterson Puritan pre-design field work has been completed and is being reviewed by BRWC/FOB and our technical advisers. Among other things, the field work included tests for gasses, an inspection to determine whether any of the trash had spilled beyond the footprint, and whether there was any additional leachate to be found. Like BRWC/FOB, the EPA and RIDEM are concerns about flooding but need to do more work on that issue. the issue of future ownership of the site is still unresolved.
Before the design phase begins, another report must yet be finalized concerning the exact nature of the cap (layers, etc.), taking into account what was learned during the pre-design field work. The hope is to have that done by the end of summer. When that is finished, a work plan for the design phase will be drawn up. The design phase will itself take up to a possible two years. If you would like a copy of the field work report, please contact BRWCFOB@gmail.com.
UPDATE AS OF 12/2018:
On May 3, 2017, a Consent Decree was signed by a federal judge in Washington and by authorities in the State of Rhode Island, giving EPA Region 1 and the State of Rhode Island permission to begin performing additional tests and planning in accordance with the provisions of the Consent Decree thus issued. The remediation settlement was for over $40,000,000. Since that time, the project has been in its pre-design phase.
For more information go to Peterson Puritan Superfund Site, OU-2 and then click on ‘Case Summary: Settlement Addresses Soil, Sediment and Groundwater Contamination at the Peterson/Puritan, Inc. Superfund Site in Rhode Island’
UPDATE AS OF 8/9/2014:
The EPA has released a proposed cleanup plan for the site. There will be a public hearing held on August 21st at 6:30 p.m. at the Cumberland Public Library where questions and clarifications can be addressed. To view the plan, visit the EPA website and search for Peterson / Puritan Site Cleanup Proposal from the EPA.
UPDATE AS OF 7/12/2013:
Fact sheets, feasibility studies and project documents available here:
- Fact Sheet – Peterson/Puritan, Inc. Superfund Site
- Project Memo – TAG Feasibility Study Concerns
- Project Memo – TAG Focused Comments
- Project Memo – TAG Remedial Investigation
- Map – Peterson Puritan Superfund Site
UPDATE AS OF 10/16/2012:
The EPA and Army Corp of Engineers released its third 5-year report for the Operable Unit-1. The report covers Operable Unit-1 (OU-1). View a copy of the Third 5-Year Review Report Peterson/Puritan Superfund Site OU-1
UPDATE AS OF 9/8/2011:
EPA’s technical reports were released and made available electronically on the web. The human health and ecological risk assessment reports (dated July 2011) are available on the EPA website. Note: the ecological and health risk assessments for the J.M. Mills Landfill (OU-2) segment of the superfund site documents will be reviewed by BRWC/FOB and its advisors, the PRP group and RIDEM. One or more meetings will be scheduled to give the general public the opportunity to learn more and to weigh in on the decision-making process, as well as on the future of the site.
History of the Peterson Puritan Superfund Site
The history of this site, divided administratively into 3 areas known as Operable Units, and of EPA’s engagement with it can be found on the EPA website www.epa.gov.
BRWC/FOB First Official Site Visit on June 30, 2011
On June 30, 2011, BRWC/FOB’s TAG Committee (Alice Clemente, John Marsland, Sandra Belliveau, Joe Pailthorpe, and Frank Matta), our technical advisors, Paul Kulpa (RIDEM-OWM), and David Lang (PRP group representative) met with EPA’s David Newton (Remedial Project Manager) and Sarah White (Community Involvement Coordinator), first for a tour of the site’s J.M. Mills Landfill and associated parcels (also known as Operable Unit 2) and then for a follow-up meeting at the Cumberland Public Library.
During this meeting, David Newton reviewed the status of the CCL/PAC remediation area, also known as OU-1, and answered questions about groundwater remediation in that segment of the site. He then reviewed the process to be followed at the J.M. Mills Landfill area (OU-2). Once the relevant reports have been completed and distributed to BRWC/FOB’s TAG Committee, its technical advisors, the PRPs and RIDEM for review and comment, the public will be engaged in the process, first through BRWC/FOB’s outreach efforts and then through EPA’s own public meeting and comment period.
The technical report schedule will soon be finalized. Reports will be made available electronically on the web.
Powering the Rebirth of Our Mighty Blackstone
Bringing Migrating Fish Back to Our Valley
There was once a time in the Valley when migrating fish drew crowds of people, flocks of birds, and many other wildlife species to the banks of the Blackstone. Over 200 years ago, this ancient process stopped, when the river’s flow was abruptly interrupted by dams of the Industrial Revolution.
Today we no longer rely upon these dams to power our economy. Many remain in place however, continuing to not only block fish from their native spawning grounds, but keeping wildlife and people from enjoying the resources and excitement of annual fish runs.
Our goal is to construct fish ladders or remove dams so that the river can once again draw people and wildlife to its banks.
History of the Fish Passage
A Historic Valley
Most people in the Blackstone River Valley are familiar with its industrial history, however they may not be as familiar with the impacts of this industry. At one time, the Blackstone was a wide, wild river—habitat for many species of fish and other wildlife. The Blackstone was breeding territory for shad, herring, and even Atlantic salmon. These are called anadromous species which hatch in freshwater, migrate to the ocean, and return to their native river to breed (spawn).
Deterioration of the River
The construction of Slater Mill Dam in 1793 initiated the decline of anadromous fish in our area. Dams and mills along the river blocked migration and contributed to heavy pollution of critical habitat.
Bringing the River Back
In the past 30 years, the Blackstone has seen dramatic improvements. As a result of community efforts and environmental legislation (especially the Clean Water Act of 1972), freshwater fish and wildlife are abundant, and people are once more enjoying nature along the Blackstone.
Fish Passage- Next Steps
With improved water quality and the success of the Lonsdale Drive-in Wetland Restoration Project, breeding habitat is available, and the return of anadromous species is possible. The Blackstone is ready and beckoning. It is time that wild, native fish return to complete the Rebirth of Our River. With the help and support of our government, community organizations, and citizens, we can make our fish ladder project a reality.
Progress & Vision
In the past few months, members of the organizations involved have met with town, state, and federal officials, receiving support and commitment. We are actively seeking partnership with dam owners along the river to find options that are beneficial for all.
Complete the master plan focused on the first four dams (see map), and begin passage installation.
Complete the goal of bringing shad, herring, and even salmon back to their native spawning grounds in Massachusetts by installing passage systems on the 4 dams between Valley Falls and the Massachusetts border.
Fish Ladders – Benefits
Restoration of anadromous fish to the Blackstone River would provide substantial ecological benefits for the Blackstone River watershed and the Narragansett Bay ecosystem, as well as economic benefits for the communities of the Blackstone Valley and beyond. Specifically, the re-established fish runs would provide:
- Forage for valuable commercial and recreational fish species such as bluefish, striped bass, bass and pickerel
- Forage for predatory birds such as waterfowl, wading birds, and osprey
- Enhanced fishing opportunities for urban anglers
- Educational opportunities and aesthetic benefits to visitors at Slater Mill and other areas
Enhanced opportunities for tourism and recreation in the Blackstone River Valley.
What Can YOU Do?
- Contact your municipal and legislative officials to show support for the project.
- Watch for updates on this website
Join the effort by becoming a member of BRWC/FOB. (See Membership page). For more information see the attached brochure on the project.
Scott Brook Project
The Scott Brook Project was a collaboration of three groups: The Blackstone River Watershed Council, The Cumberland Land Trust, and the Cumberland Conservation Commission. Under the authorization of the Town of Cumberland, the project utilized 38 volunteers and over 828 volunteer hours to clean up 81 acres of land formerly used as a pig farm. The area is now part of the Cumberland Land Trust preserve.
The report below details the work performed, the tons of scrap material recycled, trash collected, and shows before and after photos of different areas of the property.