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Grants to help reduce stormwater pollution in rivers

With two new federal grants worth about $270,000, the regional government will begin work on projects to reduce stormwater pollution in the Millers River watershed and minimize sediment in the South River in Conway.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency grants, targeting “non-point source pollution” from diffuse sources, rather than industrial or wastewater treatment discharges, were announced Thursday by the state.

They include $212,500 toward a $354,166 Sediment Management Best Management Practices Project in the South River and $35,000 to help reduce stormwater pollution in the western Millers River watershed with low impact development, a project totaling $58,333.

The projects are among seven announced by the state totalling $1.4 million.

The Conway project will implement best management practices to mitigate the effects of polluted stormwater runoff.

According to the state agency, “The South River water

shed has become increasingly unstable in recent years due to extreme storm events.”

The Franklin Regional Council of Governments recently completed a planning study recommending restoration downstream of the Route 116 Bridge. The project would stabilize 1,400 feet of eroding river bank, and a floodplain lowering component would provide the river access to its floodplain to increase sediment storage and reduce flood flow velocities.

The project was ranked first of 10 high priority restoration sites by the state, reflecting both the potential for infrastructure damage and the need for improved aquatic habitat, according to DEP.

The Millers grant will help develop and distribute information and materials needed to support local outreach and education efforts to address impacts of polluted stormwater across the state.

The project will work with town officials along the lower stretch of the Millers to incorporate “low impact development” techniques — such as the rain garden and pervious gravel used as a recharge area in the Orange Riverfront Park — into local bylaws and regulations.

“These grants will help local communities protect vital water resources and enhance environmental quality,” Gov. Deval Patrick said. “We are proud to be a partner in their efforts, and I thank the Obama Administration for supporting us and sharing our commitment to environmental stewardship.”

“Nonpoint source pollution threatens the health of our lakes, streams and watersheds, and degrades the quality of life for all of our residents,” STATE Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan said. “The projects announced today will make a difference in the quality of our drinking water, watersheds, coastal waters, and aquatic recreational areas.”

“Waterways such as the Millers River and South River are distinctive features of the Pioneer Valley. The Franklin Regional Council of Governments recognizes the importance of these resources and has dedicated staff to develop comprehensive best management practices to protect them,” said U.S. Rep. John Olver, D-Mass.

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