Eric Walberg

Senior Program Leader, Climate Services

Watershed Action Alliance of Southeastern Massachusetts


March 1, 2019


Dorie Stolley
Coordinator and Outreach Manager

Speakers Announced for Regional Water Conference

Watershed Action Alliance of Southeastern Massachusetts (WAA) recently announced the speakers for its 2019 conference, Water – New England’s Next Big Challenge, to be held on March 29 at Camp Kiwanee in Hanson, Massachusetts from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Attendees may register online at ($25) or at the door ($30). The conference fee is waived for students, interns and low-income residents thanks to generous sponsors.

The plenary speaker is Alex Hackman, a restoration ecologist for the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration known throughout the regional for his work restoring wetlands and rivers. His talk, entitled, Help Wanted – Restore Your Wetlands for Ecological Dynamism, will describe the role of community-based ecological restoration in preparing the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources for the future.

The moderator of the first session, The Intersections of Water Quantity and Quality, is Alex Mansfield, Ecology Program Director for Jones River Watershed Association. Speakers include John Mullaney, Groundwater Specialist, New England Water Science Center, USGS; Michael Ohl, Principal Engineer, Comprehensive Environmental, Inc.; and Joanne Zygmunt, Commissioner, Central Plymouth County Water District Commission. Mullaney will address how the relationships between surface water and groundwater influence available water supply for human and ecological needs. Ohl will discuss examples of how water quality impairments reduce the functional availability of water quantity.  Finally, Zygmunt will tie the pieces together to consider the social implications of water use and abuse, and what they mean for the average citizen at the tap.

Eric Walberg, Senior Leader in Climate Services at Manomet, Inc., will moderate the second session, The Future of Water in New England. Walberg will provide background on the effects of climate change on precipitation, temperature, and hydrology in the region. Next, Heidi Ricci, Assistant Director of Advocacy at Mass Audubon, will describe changing land use trends and the impacts of development. Subsequently, Sara Burns, Water Resource Scientist at The Nature Conservancy, will address how these two factors – climate change and development – will impact water resources. And, finally, Bill Napolitano, Environmental Program Director at Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District, will share methods of mitigating the impacts of climate change and development to water resources, including the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program.

The third and final session will be facilitated by Cheryl King Fischer, former natural resources public participation coordinator. Fischer will speak about the importance of public action at multiple levels to protect water and will guide attendees in small discussion groups on this topic.

Additional speakers include representatives of WAA member organizations who will have five minutes apiece to succinctly present the mission and work of their group. These include Samantha Woods, Executive Director, North and South Rivers Watershed Association; Heather Rockwell, Director of Operations, Barnstable Clean Water Coalition; Lawrence Delafield, President, Six Ponds Improvement Association; Kerry Snyder, Advocacy Director, Neponset River Watershed Association; Kate McPherson, Narragansett Bay Riverkeeper, Save the Bay; and a Board member from Herring Ponds Watershed Association.

Sara Grady, South Shore Regional Coordinator for the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program and Watershed Ecologist at North and South Rivers Watershed Association will introduce the conference and speakers and provide a synthesis of the issues and mitigation options discussed during the conference.

Healthy waters, critical to all of us, provide drinking water, recreation, habitat for wildlife, and water for homes and businesses. Our water resources in New England are threatened by numerous factors that are magnified by climate change and development. However, there are many solutions for restoring and maintaining water quality and quantity and healthy watersheds. Join Watershed Action Alliance and others at Water – New England’s Next Big Challenge to learn, network, and share knowledge. For more information and to register, visit

For questions, email Dorie Stolley, the conference coordinator, at, or leave a message at 508-746-0769.

Conference sponsors include Island Foundation, Aquarion Water Company, Horsley Witten Group, North and South Rivers Watershed Association, Plymouth Cultural Council, the Town of Hanson, Massachusetts Environmental Trust, Weir River Watershed Association, Neponset River Watershed Association, A.D. Makepeace Companies, Wildlands Trust, Save the Bay – Narragansett Bay, Barnstable Clean Water Coalition,  Taunton River Watershed Alliance, Six Ponds Improvement Association, Herring Ponds Watershed Association, Mass Audubon – Shaping the Future of Your Community, Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration, Manomet, Inc., The Gulf Association, Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program, Jones River Watershed Association, Metro South Chamber of Commerce, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Duxbury and Taunton Cultural Councils.

Watershed Action Alliance is an affiliation of thirteen watershed and pond associations in Southeastern Massachusetts working for clean, plentiful, and free-flowing water. Find WAA at

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