Mimicking Nature for a Clean Taunton River Basin

“Improving the Taunton watershed will need big-picture thinking and local actions.”
- The Nature Conservancy's Cathy Bozek

The problem at Taunton’s City Hall parking lot wasn’t pretty: Rainwater carried pollutants directly from the parking lot straight into the Mill River. In heavy storms, runoff caused erosion along the riverbanks.

The solution is remarkably pretty: A new park with flower-filled rain gardens and swales—grassy areas designed to manage excess water—filter water from the nearby parking lots and reduce risk of flooding. With technical assistance and funding, The Nature Conservancy provided support to this and other projects that help keep the Taunton River basin healthy for nature and people. We hope these projects will inspire many more.

This is just one example of how communities are rethinking and retooling ways to keep rivers healthy through green infrastructure projects.

“It’s really using nature to help manage stormwater, in combination with the traditional pipes and sewers,” says Cathy Bozek, an aquatic ecologist for The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts. “Green infrastructure can include building rain gardens or protecting natural areas that help soak up water.”

The Conservancy is leading efforts to clean and restore the wild and scenic Taunton River and its tributaries for many reasons. We want to see the river clean and healthy for community drinking water, recreational use and wildlife and fish habitats, including restored herring runs.

In addition to Taunton’s Mill River Park, the Conservancy has helped green infrastructure projects at Bridgewater State University and Bristol County Agricultural School.

Now we’re working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to identify communities and other projects that can inspire a clean, healthy Taunton River basin.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” Bozek says. “Improving the Taunton watershed will need big-picture thinking and local actions.”


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