Local River Endangered

The Ipswich River is endangered! The river is 45 miles long, flowing through gorgeous forests and marshy floodplains. It is used for recreational activities, such as swimming and kayaking, but most importantly, for water supply. The river provides for 350,000 residents within 14 communities in the Bay State area. It is in the top 10 of the most endangered rivers in the US.

Massachusetts has so much wildlife and the fact that “we’re sounding the alarm because pumping streams dry threatens not only the Ipswich River ecosystem but the security of this region’s water supply and viability of local economies.” The river has been so low that people were able to walk across the river floor. There is a picture of people having a picnic on the river floor. They were trying to advocate for how this should not be possible for them to do and what we are doing right now is harming the river so bad that we can have picnics on it. The environmental teacher, Mrs. Lafrance, says that low flow impacts the quantity of people’s drinking water. The river’s flow rate leads to less dissolved oxygen for organisms; also the temperature of the water which affects organisms living in the water (and higher temps leads to less dissolved oxygen).”

The reason for such low water is the outdated laws that allow people to over pump the watershed. The Water Management Act was put in place in 1986. This “limited how much water organizations and companies could pull out of the river. But groups with existing permissions — what the state calls “registrations” — were allowed to continue withdrawing water at the pre-limit rates, even during droughts.” These laws have not changed since. This month,“1,500-member group of residents, scientists, businesses and community leaders” started the Endangered Ipswich Campaign. The leaders wanted individuals to start to limit their water consumption. “The truth is, so much of the work that we need to do to address environmental challenges happens not internationally but in much smaller communities — in states, countries, cities, and towns around the world.” Emma Kennedy, a senior at Ipswich High school, has known about the endangerment of the river for a long time. She strongly believes that we take advantage of the river. She says, “Ipswich and surrounding towns use so much water snd take so much out of the watershed that we hurt the river ecosystem.” Many specialists would agree with her, but the question is, how do we help the river? 

Many things could be done to protect the river. The Ipswich river website has many ideas of how everyday people can take action to put a stop to this. One of the ideas is to pledge. Pledges can go from “I will not water my grass”, to “I will not use that many chemicals on my lawn”. Another simple step is to advocate and inform others. There are thousands of residents that use the water from the watershed. The sad part is they do not know how much harm they are causing. All it takes is one second to share with someone the facts about the Ipswich river and how they can help. Maddie Cormier, a senior at Ipswich High school, says “I just learned that the river was endangered because of the information that was released that it is one of the top 10 endangered rivers in the US.” On a larger scale, we could push for the state/ government to fix the outdated regulations. This would enforce everyone to follow along, not just the individual’s desire. Mrs. Lafrance says that “there needs to be an equitable way to determine how much water towns/cities can take from the Ipswich River watershed. Right now, some towns can take enough water that they rarely impose restrictions while other towns, like Ipswich, almost always have a water ban situation.” There are also many other creative things that people have started. There is even a paddle-a-thon to raise money for the river! 

I want you to know this. All these things that are written about are big things that involve lots of people to be able to accomplish. However, the smallest things, like reducing your shower time, could help lessen the endangerment of the river. If everyone did one little thing, it would make a big difference. As specialists say, “this is a key moment, and what we do for the Ipswich River could serve as a litmus test for improving climate and river policy throughout the country.”