Streams get a thumbs up
Marlborough – From fishing out televisions to testing water quality, 15 volunteers canvassed the north bank and the main stream of Milham Brook over the past few months. The volunteers are part of the "Stream Team," which is a conservation effort supported by the city.
The goal of the Stream Team is to walk the local waterways and compile data about the present environment of the water and the surrounding stream banks. The objective is to create a document that compiles information about the area and a list of issues confronting the stream. The Stream Team first began last year and was met with both community and city support.
"It was great last year," said Conservation Officer Priscilla Ryder. "We made a master list, gave it to the DPW and they went through it like a checklist."
Green Marlborough founder Jennifer Boudrie, who has been involved with the program since the beginning, describes the experience as "eye-opening."
"It's a great way to check on the health of the streams for the sake of the city and its residents and the environment," Boudrie said.
After breaking Milham Brook down into quartermile blocks, the groups discovered that the stream was, in fact, in good shape. The report noted some concerns about residents composting along the edge of the brook. Because composting creates fertilizer, if placed along the river, the compost's nutrients will run into the river causing overgrowth of plants that can harm the waterways.
"We want to encourage composting," Ryder said, "but not on the edge of the brooks and waterways."
As in most communities, Marlborough's waterways have their share of appliances, televisions and other unwanted items dumped in remote locations. Ryder said she was pleased that the Stream Team volunteers took it upon themselves to clean out most of the litter in the brook.
"We got a bunch of things done at the same time," Ryder said.
What Boudrie found interesting along the walk was meeting the residents whose properties abut the stream and learning the history of the waterways.
"Our streams pass through woods, under roads, by businesses and homes," Boudrie said. "You can learn about the history of the city or your neighborhood by walking the streams."
With 10 more streams in the city yet to walk, Boudrie said she hopes that more residents will volunteer for future walks.
"We hope to get people to start adopting the streams in their back yard, much like people adopt stretches of highways," she said. "We need people to take care of them."
To participate in future investigative stream walks, residents must participate in a one-night training. During the training, residents will learn what to look for and how to identify broken storm drains, erosion, pollution and different wildlife in the area.
"Streams drain into something we all love – the water supply… whether it is for recreation or drinking … it needs to be clean," Ryder said. "If we know about the problems, we can take care of them sooner [rather] than later."
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