Black River Action Team Update

From Kelly Stetner, Black River Action Team (BRAT)

This has been an amazing year for me, with SO much happening on so many fronts! I’ve been extremely fortunate to have the enthusiastic assistance of a number of you on projects like water quality monitoring, trash-scouting, and more.

RiverSweep paddle crews needed!
Big call for help on this one — if you’d be willing and able to help with paddling or trucking trash from the banks on Saturday, September 7th, please give me a shout! I’ve got a “trash barge” canoe sitting at the Springfield Recycle Station, just waiting for a pilot! There are sections that need to be done on the banks and in the bed below the old J&L building (some tires and a couple of bicycles, for starters) plus some junk along the Paddock Road stretch (mostly tires). Recently, some fearless BRAT scouts paddled from Ludlow to Cavendish and have outlined some trash areas; if someone is willing to load their kayak or canoe with some of the junk found between Lake Pauline (the Okemo golf course area) and downtown Ludlow through to the East Hill Road bridge, that would be awesome. Please let me know ASAP if you can help with this, so we can strategize. Thank you!

How clean is the river?
Under the guidance of “water quality guru” Bill Manner, our monthly sampling program is running smooth-as-silk in its second season! Trained BRAT volunteers Charlie Kramp, Jan Lambert, myself, and my daughter all collect our samples at 11 different locations in Springfield, North Springfield, and Weathersfield. I’m happy to share ALL results with anyone who is interested, and E.coli results are posted at for anyone to log on and check out. I also get regular updates from the US Army Corps of Engineers on the E.coli bacteria counts at Stoughton Pond, which I post at

Monitoring Mile Brook
This little brook bubbles merrily along Valley Street as it cascades down from Weathersfield; it disappears into a concrete tunnel under the People’s United Bank parking lot, flows under Main Street, then hits daylight for a hundred feet or so before entering the Black River just above Comtu Falls in downtown Springfield. Over the centuries, it has been impacted by a wide range of development, ranging from being paved over to hosting gas stations and garages on its banks, to receiving sewage directly from homes and businesses on Valley Street and above on Pleasant Street. Some of these issues have been resolved, but the echoes of the past linger — readings are still high for bacteria (the Town is aware of and working on remedying this issue) and certain chemicals associated with fuel oil. I’m in the process of communicating with various people connected to the old buried tanks from decades ago, and with State personnel associated with these underground storage tanks and the cleanup involved and assessments that are done when an UST is removed. This saga will unfold…Mile Brook may never emerge from the concrete tunnel, but her water’s health will improve as the impacts are detected and remedied.

Sampling the Spoonerville
Spoonerville Brook is a lovely little water-way in North Springfield; it’s “sister” stream is Great Brook, which runs along Main St in North Springfield. Both brooks are the most likely recipients of any impact that is to be felt in our groundwater, should the proposed eleven-story biomass incinerator (N Springfield Sustainable Energy Project — NSSEP) become a reality. Anyone with an interest in learning more can view the original testimonies and documents here: Staying up-to-date on the issue is easy if you stay in touch with the neighbors who have formed the North Springfield Action Group — NoSAG:

BRAT will continue to take weekly readings in both Spoonerville and Great Brooks; many thanks to all who have donated to help us purchase a Hach water meter for this ongoing project. There are plans for a “bug hunt” later this summer, to take another annual inventory of the creatures who live on the bottom of Spoonerville Brook — let me know if you are interested in participating!

Savvier swimming
Thanks to a partnership with Okemo Mountain Resort and the BRAT’s Adopt-the-River swimming hole campaign, the highly popular Buttermilk Falls swimming hole is now being monitored weekly for levels of the bacteria E.coli. Results are posted on the large “Okemo State Forest” sign at the entrance to the falls; it’s NOT recommended that people swim when the water is cloudy or within 24 hours of a heavy rain.

A new public area has opened up on the river: Greven Field in Cavendish, VT now sports a lovely recreational path around the baseball diamonds, which features kayak access and areas for swimming and wading. A new partnership has begun with community members and the newly-formed Cavendish Recreation Department, the main river access site will be tested weekly for bacteria levels. The samples will be delivered by courier to Endyne Labs, and results will be posted at the Field in time for the weekend’s visitors.

More developments are in the works and in the wings…stay tuned!

Black River Action Team (BRAT)…be part of the solution!
101 Perley Gordon Road
Springfield, VT 05156
(802) 885-1533

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