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Watershed News Winter 2020

President’s Address
Winter can be an excellent time for the northeast and in many places across the
introspection. When a winter storm blows in U.S. In our own area the continuing clean-up
and we are forced to hunker-down and it can work on PCBs pollution in the rivers of
be an opportunity for deep thinking and Berkshire County as well as our local
reading (apologies and gratitude to those on groundwater contamination here in the Barnes
the snow removal efforts!). This winter it’s Aquifer in Westfield point to this.
been hard not to focus on some of the tough
I’ve just returned from a trip to highland
stories coming to us on the environment front.
Guatemala where many of the rivers are
Growing up in Springfield, I was always told choked with plastics debris as well the black
in school that we had the best water quality in and graywater effluent from cities and towns.
the country. Cobble Mountain felt almost Our own rivers were once like this – though in
sacred, though perhaps more for its alleged the age before plastics were everywhere – but
national fame than for its importance to our they have been cleaned of many of the most
existence and quality of life. Later, when I got egregious pollutants. The job is not done,
the chance to explore the Little River however, and time does not stand still. We
watershed of which Cobble Mountain need river stewards and water protectors like
Reservoir, as well as Pitcher Brook and other you all to keep the right to clean water and a
streams are a part, I experienced the beautiful, healthy environment at the forefront of our
forested landscapes in another way, and collective agenda. Thank you, as always,
understood the connection. for your support of WRWA’s efforts in
Somewhat astonishingly to someone raised this endeavor.
with ‘the best water in the nation’, unfettered In solidarity with the watershed,
access to clean water is not a guarantee here in
Brian W. Conz
WRWA President

Westfield River Watershed Association News 1

WRWA Welcomes Student Board Members
Last Spring the WRWA Board of Directors voted Our student board members this year are Kristen
to create two board seats to be filled by students Couture and Julieanne Griffiths. Kristen is a
from Westfield State University. This move is sophomore Environmental Science major. She
intended to provide an opportunity for students joined the board to see what environmental science
with an interest in the environment to participate in looks like in action and to support the community
the workings of a non-profit organization, to through volunteer work. Julieanne is a Regional
provide some valuable experience in deliberation Planning and Environmental Science double-major
and decision making, not to mention a line on the who is passionate about environmental issues.
resume. These students can also help to provide Thanks to both of them for their energy and input!
insights for the Association in its endeavors.

Good Reads
Amity and Prosperity: One Family and The Without spoiling the book (and at risk of stating
Fracturing of America by Eliza Griswold the obvious) hosting fracking operations on your
land and in your community turns out to be more
The 2019 winner of
than was bargained for. The book follows the
the Pulitzer Prize for
family’s struggles with a series of unexplained
non-fiction, Amity
health problems and unanticipated environmental
and Prosperity is a
impacts, including tainted drinking water and
story of southwestern
greatly compromised air quality. As readers, we
Pennsylvania in the
are forced to confront serious questions about the
heart of gas country
human and environmental costs of fossil
and the natural gas
fuel extraction.
boom. During the
early 2000s fossil fuel
companies developed Save the Date:
technology that made Environmental Justice
formerly inaccessible
natural gas available. Cross-Cultural Symposium
Hydraulic fracturing – fracking – involves On March 20 Westfield State University’s College
injecting huge volumes of water and lubricants of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences will host
deep into Earth’s crust in order to mobilize gas that several speakers and events focused on cross-
can then be piped to the surface. cultural dimensions of Environmental Justice.
Environmental Justice is a legal field and social
The book follows the story of one family who,
movement that draws attention to the
along with many others throughout the region,
disproportionate exposure of low-income
allowed fracking to proceed out on their farms.
communities and people of color to environmental
They agreed out of a sense of patriotism and duty
hazards. The symposium will involve local issues
to support American energy independence. They
and should be of great interest to WRWA
did it in hopes of supporting a local economy
members. Keep your eye on our website and
desperate for new vitality. They did it because they
Facebook page for more details.
needed the money for their children’s future.

Westfield River Watershed Association News 2

PFCs and PFAS: 'Forever
Chemicals’ and the
Barnes Aquifer
Recently, the discussion of PFCs (perfluorinated
carbons) and PFAS (a sub-group of PFCs used in
fire-fighting foams and other applications) seems
to be everywhere. The major spill of PFAS from
Bradley Airport into the Farmington River last
June led to a ‘Don’t Eat the Fish’ warning for
anglers in that neighboring watershed. There’s the
success of the film Dark Waters released this fall,
which chronicles a DuPont cover-up of PFC
pollution in West Virginia and the Ohio River
Valley. In December the Massachusetts DEP
drafted regulations placing legal limits on the
presence of PFAS in drinking water. Finally, early
this month, the White House announced it would River Cleanup
veto a bill introduced by the House that would
place regulations on PFCs. WRWA held its annual Fall Cleanup on two days
this year. On September 28, groups fanned out
PFCs have been described as ‘forever chemicals’ from a meeting site in Westfield to cover eight
because they do not break down in the sites in Westfield and Russell. Thirty-four intrepid
environment, including in human tissue. Most of volunteers (including eight Brownies) collected 36
us appear to have traces of these chemicals present bags of trash, 3 tires, and various other items,
in our tissue, the result of exposure to their use in including a mattress, a grill, some scaffolding, ad a
non-stick cookware, but higher levels of exposure bag of cement, among other items.
have been linked to health risks, especially
because of the chemicals’ tendency to accumulate Then on October 5, a second group of 30-35 hardy
in tissue over time through prolonged exposure. souls, working out of Pynchon Point in Agawam
(the mouth of the river, where it meets the
So our case of PFAS pollution here in the Connecticut), collected 25-30 bags of trash, seven
watershed is part of a larger regional, national and tires, and large pieces of Styrofoam, among other
international problem (as many residents of North things. Thanks to all who participated – the river is
Westfield well know!). Clean-up efforts here are better for your efforts – cleaner and healthier, for
intended to reduce PFAS to undetectable levels people and wildlife!
and ultimately lead to the re-opening of the two
closed municipal wells. Recent test results from
the contaminated wells, as well as several media
sources for better understanding the topic, can be
found on the City of Westfield’s website

Westfield River Watershed Association News 3

President: Brian Conz 999 General Knox Rd., Russell, MA 01071 572-8084
1st Vice President: Mark Damon 297 Western Ave Westfield 01085 977-1577
2nd Vice President: Ann Barone 3 Delancey St, Westfield 01085 374-9799
Secretary: Allan Ouimet 16 Russell Rd. Westfield 01085 539-0964
Treasurer: John Pelli 32 Laro Road, Westfield, MA 01085 562-0182
Sheryl Becker 142 Beekman Dr, Agawam, MA 01001 374-1921
Kristen Couture 42 Spruceland Rd., Enfield, CT 06082 860-818-9083
Julianne Griffiths 2 Town Line Circle, Bridgewater, MA 02324 774-222-5005
Tim Judy 37 Mountain Rd, Holyoke, MA 01040 569-9018
Jake Lehan 577 Western Ave, Westfield, MA 01086 364-3413
Ron Lucassen 39 Rachael Terrace, Westfield, MA 01085 568-4252
Dianne Snyder 6 Park St., Westfield, MA 01085 562-6126
Phillip Sousa 29 Yankee Circle, Westfield, MA 01085 568-3982
Heather Wyman 38 Rosedell Dr, Westfield, MA 01085
Honorary Directors
Dan Call 78 Granville Road, Unit 10, Westfield 01085 364-0993

Westfield River Watershed Association News 4

PO Box 1764
Westfield, MA 01086-1764

Westfield River Watershed
Association Newsletter
Winter 2020
In This Issue
Good Reads ............................................2
Save the Date:
Environmental Justice
Cross-Cultural Symposium .....................2
WRWA Welcomes
Student Board Members .........................3
PFCs and PFAS:
'Forever Chemicals’ and the
Barnes Aquifer ........................................3
River Cleanup .........................................3

Westfield River Watershed Association News 5

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