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Watershed News June 2017

President’s Message
What a difference a year makes! review of last years activities and along with a very
interesting speaker. Refreshments were provided by
Last year we were in a drought situation. The rivers
the University. The Waite award was presented to
and lakes had very little water, which made canoeing,
Mark Damon, a long-time, loyal board member.
kayaking and fishing difficult if not impossible.
Just a reminder – all of our members are invited to the
This Spring we’ve had lots of water – maybe too
Annual meeting and we do appreciate everyone that
much! The rivers and lakes are filled to capacity,
attends. Members are our most important asset. Please
which actually, may not be a bad thing for our upcom-
address any board member with any suggestions or
ing river cruise.
concerns you may have about our watershed.
So yes, we are sponsoring our annual Canoe/Kayak
Enjoy the river this summer and send us pictures
cruise in June, as well as the fly fishing clinic and the
when you do. We would like to post them on our
river clean up in September and October.
facebook page!
Other activities that have taken place this spring were
the fish ladder open house and the Trout in the class
room program. Bill Rose
WRWA President
The Annual meeting was held in May, wherein we
elected our board of directors and officers, and had a

In This Issue
Canoe & Kayak Cruise
Saturday, June 17 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Storm Drain Labeling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Fly Fishing Clinic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Trout in the Classroom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Fish Ladder Open House . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
A Shout-Out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
2017 River Symposium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Officers and Directors for 2017 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Upcoming events
Canoe & Kayak Cruise
Saturday, June 17
by Ann Barone
On Saturday, June 17, the Westfield River Watershed
Association will sponsor a scenic six-mile paddle
from the new Great River Bridge in Westfield to Rob-
inson State Park in Agawam. For those used to seeing
the river only in glimpses from the road, the family-
friendly canoe and kayak cruise offers a new, close-up Low or high water conditions or severe weather
view of the waterway. may require cancellation of the event. If you plan to
participate and would like to receive a cancellation
“Travel down the river through Westfield and see notice by email the evening before the event, email
only the natural features of the riverscape,” urges Phil and put the word “Notify” in
Sousa who is coordinating this year’s Canoe Cruise. the Subject line. WRWA will also post the cancella-
“People are amazed that the pollution is now gone tion on its website, the eve-
and the river is really clean. You don’ t see any of ning before. For more information about the Canoe
the commercial businesses near the river while pad- and Kayak Cruise, visit or
dling, just birds, wildflowers, even beaver dams and call Phil at 413-568-3982.
animals native to our area.” Phil, who is a long-time
Board member of the river organization, encourages
paddlers to “Come and meet new people. You’ll have Storm Drain Labeling
a great time. This cruise is suitable for people with at by Mike Young
least a little paddling experience. The water is mostly
We’ll be doing one more morn-
flat – we guide folks around any really fast spots.”
ing of storm drain labeling in
Participants need to bring their own canoe or kayak, Westfield this year, tentatively
paddles and personal safety devices, as well as sun- scheduled for Saturday, July
screen and drinking water. Organizers recommend 21. We’ve got about 150 labels
that participants have some experience paddling, left over from previous years’
given that river conditions may be unpredictable. work and will be using them
Children under 18 must be supervised by a parent or to re-label drains in the downtown Westfield area
guardian. Children under 14 must paddle in the same whose original labels have been lost to snowplows.
boat as an adult. If you’re able to help out, we’ll meet in the park-
An admission fee of $10.00 per person or $25.00 per ing area for Westfield’s Town Hall (off Court Street
family will help cover shuttle service, insurance and just west of Washington Street) at 9:00 a.m. Wear
light refreshments. Registration is from 9:30 a.m. to older clothing (the adhesive for the labels can be a
10:30 a.m. in the municipal parking lot off Meadow bit messy), bring sunscreen and water, and expect to
Street near the Great River Bridge in Westfield. Par- be busy til around noon. The streets have to be dry
ticipants will register, unload boats and gear, drive for the adhesive to hold, so recent or ongoing rain
their vehicles to Robinson State Park and return by will result in rescheduling of the work. Contact Mike
shuttle to the launch area. Staggered departures will Young ( or 413-562-8498)
begin around 11:00 a.m. with questions.
  Westfield River Watershed Association News  2  
Fly Fishing Clinic
by Bill Rose encourage to bring their fly rods and will be instructed
on how to cast it.
The fly fishing clinic will be held on September 9th
this year. This allows us to avoid a conflict with the You also may be asked to help gather insects from the
opening weekend of the Eastern Sates Exposition. river. A lot of people stay the whole time, enjoying all
the activities. Please join us and learn yet another way
There will be fly-tying exhibition, aquatic insect iden-
to have fun on the river.
tification, and fly casting instruction. Participants are

Recent events
Trout in the Classroom
by Mike Young
The Trout in the Classroom program, successor to
the Atlantic Salmon Egg-Rearing Program, provides
a couple of hundred local elementary and middle-
school students the chance to follow the early stages
in the lives of brook trout. WRWA provides each
classroom with a 29-30 gallon aquarium tank, a
chiller that keeps the tank water at 40-50°F during the
winter and early spring, a filtration system, and sup-
plies (filters, chemicals), and also helps the MA Divi-
sion of Fisheries and Wildlife deliver about 50 brook
trout eggs to each classroom in early January. Soon broken into smaller groups of 5-8 students, with each
after delivery, the eggs hatch out and the students group spending 20-30 minutes on each of two or three
feed the growing fish throughout the spring before stream-related activities. One group uses a kick net
releasing them into the Westfield River (or a tribu- and scrapers to collect macro-invertebrates from the
tary) in May or June. Participating schools this year stream gravels, looking for the stoneflies, caddis flies
were Westfield’s North Middle School (1 tank) and and other bugs that indicate a healthy stream environ-
South Middle School (2 tanks), the Southwick Middle ment. A second group measures the width and average
School (2 tanks), Gateway Regional Middle School depth of the stream, then floats an orange downstream
(1 tank), and the R.H. Conwell Elementary School in to estimate the velocity of the water - with a view to
Worthington (1 tank). calculating the stream’s discharge (volume of water
WRWA has also assisted the North Middle School flowing by each second). They’re usually impressed
with three days of field activities (3 different teams by the result, often 100 gallons per second or more
of students) at Sanderson Brook in Chester. Each (which translates to roughly 10 million gallons a
day begins with the students releasing some of their day!). Sometimes we include a third activity, where
trout into the West Branch of the Westfield River on students are asked to use a key to identify some of the
their way to Sanderson Brook. Arriving at the brook trees along the streams banks and to think about ways
around 9 a.m., the students are divided into two that the trees affect the fish and other creatures living
groups, with one half starting the day with a hike up in the stream. Thanks to Phil Sousa, Bill Rose, for
to Sanderson Brook Falls. The remaining students are their help with either the egg delivery or the stream
activities for 2017.
  Westfield River Watershed Association News  3  
Fish Ladder Open House
Free apps that help you ID nature –
by Bill Rose
good and not so good
The fish ladder open house was a big success this
Help stop the invasion of invasive species (plant
year. We held it earlier this year, May 21st, on the
or insect) that can crowd out native species
suggestion of Mass Wildlife. They felt that it would
and destroy important habitat. The Outsmart
be the peak time for the various fish to progress up
Invasive Species Project invites nature lovers
the ladder, and indeed, approximately 250 fish were
to download the free Outsmart Invasive Spe-
observed going up the ladder when we opened and it
cies app. Then, when you spot a suspicious
remained busy all morning. There were Shad, Suck-
plant or insect, snap a photo. If you don’t have a
ers, and Small Mouth Bass among others. When we
smartphone, upload the photo from your camera
closed at 3:00 p.m. there was another large group of
through the project’s website. Learn more at
fish ready to come up but that had been intimidated Thanks to our
by all the people walking up and down the ladder.
friends in the Westfield River Watershed Inva-
sive Species Partnership (WISP) for all they do
to protect the watershed.
Leafsnap, a free app developed by Columbia
University, the University of Maryland and the
Smithsonian Institution, combines field guides
with image recognition software that helps
identify species by comparing a photo of a leaf
to the app data. This app is available on iPhone
and iPad.
Tree lovers might also check out
iconictrees to learn about iconic American trees
and the scientists trying to protect them.
316 people attended that day, a record. Everybody “There is pleasure in the pathless woods. There
came away with positive comments. is rapture on the lonely shore. There is society
There were a large number of first-time visitors that where none intrudes, by the deep sea and music
did not know that the ladder existed so close to them. in its roar. I love not man the less, but Nature
It was a very happy and educational event. more.” –Lord Byron

A Shout-Out
Lynn Bannon, our friend and long-time publicist
recently resigned from her position with the WRWA.
Her role was certainly larger than the sum of its part:
she managed our contact lists, membership info, kept
us organized, staffed our events and provided many
insightful comments at board meetings. She will defi-
nitely be missed.
Best of everything for you Lynn!

  Westfield River Watershed Association News  4  

2017 River Symposium
by Brian Conz and Aaron Reyes
This year’s annual symposium, with roughly 85
attendees, included presentations from a wide range
of professionals speaking to our membership and
the general public about the ‘Ups and Downs of a
River: Floods and Droughts on the Westfield.’ It was
an interesting cast of characters including civil engi-
neers, a meteorologist, a green building designer and
a citizen activist/educator.
Our keynote address was delivered by David Billips,
Director of Public Works for the City of Westfield.
Billips gave a fascinating talk on his work of over-
seeing both the drinking water system and the waste
water system for the City. Interestingly, among Billips’
first challenges when he began his work in Westfield ful selection of photographs of the tremendous work
several years ago, was dealing with the damage caused carried out by Italian and other immigrant workers at
by successive flood events and weather catastrophes of that time. Billips fielded a number of questions from
2011: the tornado, Hurricane Irene and the infamous a very enthusiastic audience after the talk, including
October snowstorm. These events helped spur on a questions regarding the status of wells around Barnes
complete updating of Westfield’s wastewater treatment Air Force Base, taken off line as a result of pollu-
facility. Westfield’s drinking water system, espe- tion form the base. Billips confidence and expertise
cially its connection to the Granville Reservoir, also left more than a few listeners feeling assured that the
received an overhaul, and Billips shared video foot- City would address these issues in the best interest of
age of the complex process of retrofitting the existing town residents.
delivery infrastructure, which had been in place for Chris Chamberland of the Berkshire Design Group
a hundred years. His presentation included a beauti- spoke to his audience about the incredible possibili-
ties of water conservation being explored through
green building design for the Living Building Chal-
lenge. Part of the requirement for this highly ambi-
tious certification is attaining ‘Net Zero Water’. Net
Zero Water requires that all water used by a build-
ing be sourced and disposed of onsite. Chamberland
talked about the Berkshire Design Group’s involve-
ment in Hampshire College’s R.W. Kern Center,
which, in addition to producing it’s own electricity
from PV solar panels, also supplies its drinking water
through rainwater harvesting and circulates, recycles
and disposes of all of its gray water and black water
using a complex system that includes indoor and
outdoor plant irrigation, constructed wetlands and rain
Veronica Bobskill with Friends of Robinson gardens. Chamberland discussed some of the chal-
State Park.
  Westfield River Watershed Association News  5  
lenges the building has faced in terms of regulatory rains of early March and got a view of the “belly of
hurdles as well as trouble-shooting some of the new the beast” by getting a rare opportunity to see the
territory for the technologies employed. inside of the control room that houses the dam gate
and its mechanisms. Mr. Coleman discussed many
Matthew Coleman, manager of the Knightville and
of the daily upkeep chores that are required to keep
Littleville Dams for the U.S. Army Corps of Engi-
the dams operational as well as protocols that are
neers, began his presentation by delineating the his-
followed in case of emergency by the Corps of Engi-
tory of each dam. Construction of Knightville Dam
neers and his staff.
began in 1939 as a response to major flood events in
the Pioneer Valley; mainly the floods
of 1878, 1927, and 1936. The construc-
tion of Knightville Dam was completed
in 1941. Seven years later the storms
of 1948 filled the Dam to capacity and
the dam probably alleviated flooding to
downstream cities and towns. However,
the flood of 1955 overtopped the flood
stage of Knightville by 13 feet. The
other branches of the Westfield River
were uncontrolled at the time resulting
in severe flooding for the city of West-
field. This event was the catalyst for the
approval for construction of Littleville
Dam, which was completed by 1965.
While both Dams serve their downstream
communities by offering flood protec-
tion, the Littleville Dam also serves as a Hanna Ciepela, Emily Slate and Lillian Bruffee with an exhibit of
recreational lake and a reservoir of drink- their WSU Design project to re-imagine the Westfield Riverfront.
ing water capable of storing 3 billion gal-
lons of water. While the combined cost
for construction of both dams exceeded the 10 million Karl Leiker, a geographer and meteorologist at West-
dollar mark it is estimated that the potential damage field State University with an interest in severe and
that they have prevented is on the order of 500 mil- unusual weather. He spoke about the drought of 2016,
lion dollars! In addition, it is estimated that the dams comparing it with previous droughts suffered in New
have reduced the flooding risk for their downstream England, especially the drought of 1965. The talk was
communities by about 70%. peppered with interesting stories of Leiker’s experi-
ences in drought-prone Kansas where he grew up
During the afternoon, Mr. Coleman also led a group
listening to survival stories of the dustbowl years.
of 12 participants for a tour of the dams and their
facilities. The participants braved the cold drizzling

  Westfield River Watershed Association News  6  

Officers and Directors for 2017
President: Bill Rose 39 Sunset Terrace Feeding Hills 01030 786-0195
First Vice President: Brian Conz 999 General Knox Rd., Russell, MA 01071 572-8084
Second Vice President: Allan Ouimet 16 Russell Rd. Westfield 01085 539-0964
Secretary: Mark Damon 297 Western Ave Westfield 01085 977-1577
Treasurer: Mike Young 721 West Rd. Westfield 01085 562-8498
Ann Barone 3 Delancey St, Westfield 01085 374-9799
Sheryl Becker 101 Regency Park Dr. Agawam 01001 821-0818
Timblin Judy 37 Mountain Rd. Holyoke 01040 569-9018
Ron Lucassen 39 Rachael Terrace Westfield 01085 568-4252
John A. Pelli 32 Laro Road, Westfield 01085 562-0182
Aaron Reyes 100 Park Drive Westfield 01085 572-8380
Phillip Sousa 29 Yankee Circle Westfield 01085 568-3982
Henry Warchol 2 Sackville Road Westfield 01085 562-3467
Honorary Directors:
Dan Call 777 College Highway Southwick 01077 569-9677

For more information on WRWA’s activities, check our website at

This plaque will be placed along the stairway at Glendale Falls along the Middle Branch of the Westfield River.

  Westfield River Watershed Association News  7  

The Westfield River Watershed Association
P.O. Box 1630
Westfield, MA  01086-1630

Westfield River
Watershed Association
Newsletter In This Issue
June 2017 Canoe & Kayak Cruise
Saturday, June 17 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Storm Drain Labeling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Fly Fishing Clinic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Trout in the Classroom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Fish Ladder Open House . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
A Shout-Out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
2017 River Symposium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Officers and Directors for 2017 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

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