Since late 2019, Manomet’s Climate Services Program has been working with partners Southeast Region Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD), the Horsley Witten Group, The Nature Conservancy, and Mass Audubon to address flooding and habitat restoration concerns in the Assawompset Ponds Complex (APC). On Friday, July 17, at 1:30 p.m. Governor Charlie Baker; Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito; Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides; and state and local officials will be gathering at an event to discuss the recently completed project ‘Planning for Floodwater Management in the Assawompset Ponds Complex and Nemasket River.’
Eric Walberg, Manomet’s Senior Program Leader, Climate Services, will be speaking at a site visit in Lakeville, MA, following the remarks from the Governor and others. Manomet’s contribution to the effort centers on identification of opportunities for wetland restoration in the APC watershed that have the potential to reduce floods and increase habitat value. Eric’s remarks will cover:
- The site where we are today is one of four identified several years back as opportunity areas for both wetlands restoration and river access.
- Working with the Assawompset Ponds Complex (APC) steering committee, Manomet identified wetlands restoration as a primary nature-based solution to pursue.
- Nature-based solutions, sometimes referred to green infrastructure, capitalize on the services that intact or restored natural areas provide, such as flood control and water quality protection.
- With careful planning, nature-based solutions can also provide biodiversity support, and this is a key element of our analysis for the APC.
- To that end we expanded the search area beyond the previously identified sites to include the entire APC watershed.
- Factors evaluated include soils, elevation, flood zones, and habitat value.
- Using these factors, Manomet developed comprehensive mapping of high value restoration areas across the entire watershed.
- The next phase of work will involve time in the field to identify priority sites that will both contribute to flood protection and provide habitat value.
- Once the field work is complete the project team will partner with the localities and state agencies to seek funding for the on-the-ground restoration work.
- Thanks to the Division of Ecological Restoration for funding and supporting this work and thanks to the steering committee and the project partners for contributing their time and expertise.
The APC is the largest natural freshwater lake in Massachusetts and is the drinking water supply for both Taunton and New Bedford. The region surrounding the ponds is rich in biodiversity and contains several species of conservation concern such as the Plymouth gentian. The area is also one of the most productive Bald Eagle nesting sites in the state. The watershed is also host to increasing residential development that has the potential to both exacerbate flooding and further impact important habitat.