As a volunteer, donor and beneficiary of the efforts put fourth by the Ipswich River Watershed Association, I have witnessed the amazing impact this organization has had on our watershed. These folks have the ability to bring together a diverse set of organizations that benefit and impact the river. Their competent, enthusiastic and expert staff deftly coordinate a myriad of activities from education, to monitoring, to encouraging the wise use and enjoyment of the river. IRWA has achieved significant results in saving the river from the brink. Their mission is far from over and they continue to impact improvements in environmental restoration, reduction in withdrawal and water conservation education.
I've been involved with the Ipswich River Watershed Association for more than a dozen years. The Ipswich is a small northeast Massachusetts river that is unusual for the large amount of water provided to towns and cities beyond the watershed. The organization was years ahead of its time in understanding that even in New England, we can have less water than we need. The executive director has been very adept at bringing the right people to the table to address this problem with good science. The organization is a nationally recognized leader in terms of addressing river flow issues and much progress has been made.
A watershed is home to much more than water however, and board members recently had an opportunity to see the diversity of issues the organization has tackled in a recent tour. We visited a potential dam removal site, a local canoe landing built by organization volunteers and a low impact housing development.
The association has a very lean and low key staff that provides high impact in many areas.
I have lived on the Ipswich River for 37 years and seen what it means to the communities on its banks. Not only is it the water supply and a recreational resource, but a way for us to connect to our communities’ past and their economic legacy. In recent years, the river became highly stressed, even running dry in mid-summer. The Ipswich River Watershed Association has advocated tirelessly for the health of the river. Communities upstream have found other water sources, conservation measures are in place, and I’ve seen the results in the quality and quantity of the water flowing past. Much remains to be done; the organization is now working to remove obsolete dams and bring back the migratory fish that once abounded in these waters. I can’t wait.