Running along Route 140 and through Buttonwood Park in New Bedford, Buttonwood Brook is the most significant freshwater stream feeding into Apponagansett Bay and Padanaram Harbor in Dartmouth. Multiple factors, including septic systems, stormwater runoff, and aging sewer systems, have caused Apponagansett Bay to consistently fall in the bottom 10% of all bays and harbors in Buzzards Bay.
The Buttonwood To Bay Project seeks to improve water quality in both the Brook and the Bay. The project’s multi-phased approach includes data collection, analysis and planning, and implementing on-the-ground restoration projects.
Buttonwood to Bay Project Manager Dan Goulart shared exciting updates on the project’s latest initiative along Kempton Street and the north end of Buttonwood Park.
This portion of Buttonwood Brook runs through a busy commercial district in New Bedford. The large amount of paved area, along with the stormwater runoff it generates, has led to particularly poor water quality, degraded wildlife habitat, and increased risk of localized flooding.
Buzzards Bay Coalition and the City of New Bedford are working to reduce the amount of pavement in this area and treat the stormwater onsite, before any harmful pollutants make their way into Buttonwood Brook.
Manmade structures like rain gardens, retention ponds, and wet meadows will mimic the natural processes that existed before the area was developed, allowing water to slow down, soak into the ground, and filter through soil and plant roots. Aditional tree and shrub planting will help to cool the area down, and retention basins and a wet meadow will be installed in the north end of Buttonwood Park and at the Community center along the pond’s east side to further manage stormwater runoff.
These structures will not only help keep polluted runoff out of Buttonwood Brook, but will also improve air quality, reduce pavement, cool the area, and enhance its overall appearance.
Along with improved stormwater drainage and climate resilience, the project will also integrate a long-planned trail project in the North Woods of Buttonwood Park.
This project highlights what can happen when municipal, state, and regional non-profit organizations collaborate around a shared goal. Thanks to the City of New Bedford, the EPA Southeast New England Program, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program (BBNEP) for their partnership in securing the funding needed to set this initiative in motion. Now that funding is put in place, the cleanup is projected to come to fruition by the end of 2025.
The Kempton Street cleanup will bring cost-effective solutions that offer long-term water quality, resilience, and community health benefits, both locally and in downstream Apponagansett Bay.