Podcast: Merrimack River Watershed Council Seeks Input on Recreational Use of Waterway

A four-day kayak trip along the Merrimack River during August 2019, raised awareness of local and regional environmental issues. (Josiah Morrow photograph for WHAV News.)

The Merrimack River Watershed Council wants to know whether and how residents use the Merrimack River for recreational purposes.

The organization, working with Boston University School of Public Health, is in the midst of conducting a survey, which Susie Bresney, of the Watershed Council, says has two goals.

“One is to do a health risk assessment, which the folks at BU are really heading. The idea of that is to compare the recreation information, which we will get from the survey, with water quality information to understand if, and how much of a risk there might be associated with doing these activities in the river when we know at times the river has high bacteria concentrations in it,” she explains.

Bresney serves as the Council’s Massachusetts Water Resources Program manager, and was a recent guest on WHAV’s morning program. She adds the other goal of the survey is to better understand the recreational aspects of using the Merrimack River.

“Who has access to use the river for recreation and who doesn’t. And how can we, as the Watershed Council, do a better job to make the river available to other people. If it’s lack of knowing where to go, could that be a recreational guide? If it’s not enough boat ramps or not enough signage or not enough programming like we lead kayak trips throughout the summer, and maybe that’s something we could do more of to make that accessible to more people,” she said.

Bresney says responses help the Watershed Council increase access to the river and advocate for improvements. The group is looking to wrap up the survey soon, and those responding will be entered into a raffle for one of four $25 gift cards to Market Basket or a paddling trip. The survey is available online only at Merrimack.org and responses are anonymous.

Besides WHAV.net, WHAV’s “Merrimack Valley Newsmakers” podcasts are available via Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Alexa.

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