Council to cut ribbon on new water quality lab Thursday morning

Greenfield, MA. July 20, 2010. For immediate release.

What:
The Connecticut River Watershed Council’s Ribbon Cutting/
Grand Opening for its new Community Water Quality Testing Lab

When:
Thursday, July 22, 2010; 10:30 a.m. – noon

Where:
Connecticut River Watershed Council Headquarters
15 Bank Row
Greenfield, MA 01301 (directly across from the Town Hall)

Nuts and bolts: this is an invitation-only ceremony that will include a lab demonstration and remarks from public officials, funders, and CRWC’s Board and staff. Coffee and light refreshments will be served.

Speakers: CRWC Chair James Okun; Greenfield Mayor William Martin; CRWC Executive Director Chelsea Gwyther; Pat McCullough, Northeast Utilities Foundation; Bill Hinkley, Massachusetts Environmental Trust; Ken Alton, TransCanada Corporation

Council to cut ribbon on new water quality lab Thursday morning

Greenfield, MA. July 20, 2010. When people head out for a dip at their local swimming hole there’s often a gnawing question in the back of their minds, “I wonder what’s in this water?” With no way of actually knowing, most people simply dive in–or shove off in the canoe, or let the dog take a dip, come what may. On Thursday, July 22, 2010, a new, community water quality testing lab will celebrate its grand opening in a ceremony for public officials and funders at the Council’s Headquarters at 15 Bank Row in Greenfield.

For cities and towns in central Massachusetts, southern Vermont and New Hampshire, and even north-central Connecticut, communities within an hour’s drive of Greenfield wanting answers about fecal coliform colonies or E. coli bacteria counts in local waterways can now have those questions answered. For decades, funding, testing and facilities to give communities quick answers to recreational water safety questions have been essentially absent on the federal, state and local levels. The Watershed Council has now built a regional lab to help change that.

“By prior arrangement, trained volunteers and public officials can take samples and drop them off at our new water quality testing lab,” says Chelsea Gwyther, the Council’s Executive Director. Gwyther says there are currently huge gaps in water quality information, a critical public safety concern particularly in areas where urban rivers and streams serve as recreation sites–and when heavy rain events cause combined sewers to overflow, sometimes spilling dangerously high levels of bacteria into local waterways “Now, we will have an answer for them about the safety of their particular waterway within 24 hours.” Towns will be able to quickly relay that information to the community and public officials.

The lab will be operated by CRWC in collaboration with the Deerfield River Watershed Association. Construction of the lab was supported by grants to the CRWC from the Jessie B. Cox CLT – Cox Family Fund, at The Boston Foundation; Northeast Utilities Foundation; the Massachusetts Environmental Trust; TransCanada; four donor-advised funds at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts; Coca Cola of North America and the Coca Cola Foundation; Northfield Mountain Station of FirstLight Power Resources; Connect-a-Dock; and the FISA World Rowing Tour.

The four donor-advised funds at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts are the Dr. Anthony P. Lovell Memorial Fund, The Valley Charitable Trust Fund, The Nan and Matilda Heydt Fund, and The Dorothy Anne Wheat Naturalists’ Fund, at the recommendation of the Springfield Naturalists Club.

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For press information contact: Chelsea Gwyther, Executive Director, CRWC, at 413-772-2020, or cgwyther@ctriver.org; Andrea Donlon, CRWC MA River Steward, at: 413-772-2020, ext. 205, or adonlon@ctriver.org; or Richard Ewald, CRWC Director of Planning and Development, at: 413-772-2020, ext. 206, or rewald@ctriver.org