Projects

Chelsea Creek Wetland Restoration
On behalf of an East Boston community group, CUWR worked with Bioengineering to design a wetlands restoration area along the Chelsea Creek port zone which would double as a water treatment system for the surrounding neighborhood.

Additionally, the design would create badly needed green space and animal habitat in the area and educational facilitator for coexistence of industry and the natural environment within the community. The 8-acre parcel was a former Hess oil storage site whose pre-1930’s legacy of industrial activity included pottery manufacturing and housing for dredging machinery. While funding for the project is not definitive, the proposal and design helped to forge a dialogue between the community, the City of Boston and its developers, and the funder which resulted in the allocation of capital on adjacent properties for the restoration of wetland habitat along the waterway

Black River Corridor Restoration Initiative
CUWR is leading an initiative within the Great Lakes Region towards the long-planned restoration of critical riparian and aquatic habitat within EPA designated Areas of Concern.

These sites are known to contribute ongoing pollution, contain degraded habitats, and create a major impediment to economic development and environmental justice regionally. The lower Black River corridor presents a number of challenges including severely eroded riverbanks, badly degraded riparian corridors, and floodplains filled with construction debris and byproducts from the manufacturing processes associated with steel mills and related industries. The corridor has been badly damaged, and creating an ongoing stigma that holds the region back from robust ecological and economic health.

This initiative harnesses Public-Private Partnerships to promote and execute a sweeping series of restoration activities including bank stabilization and revegetation, restoration of wetland and riparian corridor habitats, protection and enhancement of key existing habitat resources, and establishment of access for community recreation, education, and non-car transportation. Public awareness and appreciation for the site will improve through increased use, restoring the abused and damaged sites to appealing, productive resources that add to local quality of life. The initiative will result in ecologically and economically revitalized river corridors for local residents to enjoy for years to come, and major environmental impacts affecting the Great Lakes will be corrected. CUWR is currently partnered with various municipalities, private sector firms, and public agencies and welcomes collaboration with other stakeholders who seek to participate.

Wetlands Restoration Mapper
CUWR has led a partnership between the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the San Francisco Estuary Institute, and the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Polytechnic University to develop a database of restored wetlands in California and Wisconsin.

CUWR identified a research need and successfully applied for grant support from the Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds at the Environmental Protection Agency. The purpose of the database is to be used in conjunction with the existing national wetlands database, in order to fulfill an unmet need to allow users (members of the public, conservation groups, government agencies) to accurately assess the state of existing restored wetlands and make recommendations for policy, advocacy and conservation management purposes. CUWR’s eventual goal is to expand the project to include additional states to support development of comprehensive standards for identifying wetland restoration success in order to promote effective regional restoration planning and implementation processes, including those tied to mitigation banking programs, carbon sequestration programs, and other large-scale wetland and/or stream restoration activities. Links to project deliverables, including recommendations to U.S. states for data compliance with the National Wetlands Inventory standards are:

Wisconsin DNR Pilot Study

San Francisco Esuary Institute Pilot Study Data Schema for Compliance with National Wetland Mapping Standards

Honey Lake Conservation Conveyance Agreement
CUWR led an ambitious time-sensitive process to identify cleanup remedies compatible with conservation of endangered species habitat and public access on adjacent lands, both in terms of technical parameters and public perception.

Honey Lake, located adjacent to the Sierra Army Depot, is a shallow alkaline lake with no outlet. Fed by the Susan River on the northern shore and Long Valley Creek on the southern shore, the playa lake levels fluctuate significantly. A legacy of the site’s service to the military is its use as a firing range and for other ordnance demolition purposes. Environmental due diligence for the property was coordinated by CUWR including water and sediment samples to assess the lead, TNT, DNT, RDX, and other contaminant levels. CUWR oversaw CEQA and NEPA compliance procedures which needed to be addressed before the property could transfer from Army to CUWR, and then to its final recipient, the California State Land Commission. Concerns over unexploded ordnance (UXO) were addressed as were the protection and improvement of new and existing Carson Wandering Skipper (an endangered butterfly species) habitat, as well as preservation of the archeological and cultural treasures at Honey Lake. The project represents a first-of-kind innovative approach for the transfer of federal land to a long-term owner employing a non-profit organization as an intermediary to undertake the stewardship and clean-up of the property in a manner acceptable to a diverse group of stakeholders. Additionally, privatization of the Army’s NEPA compliance obligations was executed within an unprecedented four-month schedule.

OE Parcel Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement
CUWR has managed and performed services under an agreement with the United States Army, Base Relocation and Closure Division to provide institutional controls on a seasonally dry lake bed parcel of Honey Lake which is one of two sites worldwide which hosts the federally endangered butterfly species, the Carson’s Wandering Skipper.

The site was used as ordinance demolition site for many decades as part of Sierra Army Depot operations. CUWR initially provided input into the development of a proposed remedy for the removal action of Munitions and Explosives of Concern present on portions of the site. Although the remedy was formally approved, high water levels and weak lakebed soils, combined with federal funding shortages, have prevented immediate implementation of the cleanup. During the period of time prior to remedial action, other actions were necessary to limit the risk to the public who occasionally attempt access onto the potentially dangerous site. CUWR developed educational and warning signage and brochure material to alert the public to the risks of the site. CUWR provided regular monitoring to assess the level of improper access near and onto the parcel, and reported findings to Army. CUWR also liaised with community members and Army personnel to ensure that the operations and maintenance of the property remained responsive to local concerns and conservation objectives.

Low Impact Development (Lid) Retrofit Demonstration Project For Urban Sites
CUWR performed assessment, design, implementation, monitoring, and outreach on two highly urbanized sites where existing development caused unmanaged stormwater runoff to convey pollutants directly to degraded river systems, commencing in 1999.

At the time it was highly novel to use LID design measures for mitigation of stormwater impacts, and it had been unheard of to consider them in dense urban areas on a retrofit basis. For this reason CUWR received grant funding through the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Section 319 Program to advance the project. The purpose of the project was to provide illustrative examples of how two “high impact sites” (one was a junkyard and the other an office building) could be adapted using “low impact development” methods on a cost-effective basis to correct for the problem of ongoing nonpoint source pollution of waterways, including data on construction cost, water quality performance, and maintenance needs. CUWR liased with local watershed organizations, including Salem Sound Coastwatch and Hands Across the River Coalition to identify sites, perform assessments, and devise outreach programs. The project resulted in the construction of the first urban raingarden in Salem, MA and the development of plans for a watershed education community outreach facility that received funding for development from the Natural Resource Damages Assessment Trustees for the New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site.

Sustainable Water Solutions For Pandemic Response
CUWR is partnering with Project C.U.R.E (the largest medical supply non-profit) and other qualified humanitarian organizations, to provide disinfectants and sanitizers to developing countries impacted by ongoing shortages in their fight against Ebola.

We recognize that to fight Ebola or other illnesses, medical clinics, hospitals and field doctors need to be armed with consistent medical supplies to treat and protect patients, healthcare workers, and the communities they serve.

Several health centers have gone weeks without disinfectants, vital to killing pathogens on the surfaces everyone comes into contact with. Sterilization of surgical equipment with high temperatures is not possible when basic power cannot be supplied. When simple sanitation cannot be accomplished, the impacts of disease, infection and illness multiply.

CUWR is providing disinfectants and sanitizers appropriate for the infrastructure available within these communities, and safe for watershed health. The world is small and the challenge of communicable diseases affects us all. Please join us in supporting this important global initiative.

Read more on disinfection and healthy watersheds here.

Black River

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Honey Lake

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