South Shore: Rivers and salt marshes in four towns will undergo ecological restoration projects

An effort by the state will kick start the restoration of ecological conditions for rivers and salt marshes in multiple South Shore towns.

A dozen-acre wetland area in Kingston along Tussock Brook was recently added to the state’s list of priority projects. According to the Director of the Division of Ecological Restoration, Tim Purinton, fish and wildlife have suffered because the Kingston brook is not flowing naturally.

But he says they plan to remove dams and other barriers–calling it a straight forward project with a big benefit, “Restoring the natural tidal hydrology in that system will bring back all of the native fish and wildlife as well as improve vegetation–in particular help abate the spread of invasive species [like] phragmites which are a big threat to our native salt marshes.”

Purinton explains that the state won’t fully fund the restoration projects but rather they’ll invest seed money, “The state, for example, will put in a small amount to assist with engineering and design and once that engineering and design is set there’s opportunities to leverage federal dollars for the actual implementation.”

He estimates the total cost for the Kingston salt marsh project to be between $100,000-$200,000.

A five-mile river that creates the town border between Norwell and Hanover called Third Herring Brook is also negatively impacted through a series of barriers like culverts and dams, forbidding fish to freely travel.

Purinton says the removal of these barriers will not only help stream flow but will improve water quality, “Dams often create basically water pollution sources and often are the source of high temperatures.”

There are 3,000 dams in Massachusetts with the majority of them built during the industrial revolution to power windmills, but Purinton notes that dams no longer carry that use and only forty are used for flood control.

“Many of the dams we have across the Commonwealth exacerbate flooding by raising the river profile, creating more connection between the built environment and the river and when we can take out dams and lower the water profile then you create natural flood planes,” says Purinton

According to Purinton, nine dams in Massachusetts are scheduled to be removed this year.

Bound Brook in Scituate was also recently added to the state’s priority list in order to restore ecological functions.

About Trisha McNeilly

With a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts-Boston under her belt, Trisha McNeilly joins us full-time as a general assignment and breaking news reporter having previously interned for WBZ-1030 AM in Boston. A South Shore resident her whole life, McNeilly grew up in Pembroke and is 22-years old.