By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY — Lake Gardner and the Powow River could be in line for a cleanup next spring thanks to a Department of Environmental Protection grant awarded to Amesbury this week, Mayor Thatcher Kezer announced yesterday.
The money is being awarded as part of the DEP’s Nonpoint Source Competitive Grant program, which funds projects designed to address general pollution that doesn’t come from any particular source.
“When water moves over the ground and picks up any sort of fertilizer, oil or something on a parking lot that runs into a resource area, those are a couple of examples of what nonpoint pollution is,” said Eric Gregoire, the mayor’s chief of staff.
While Amesbury has received the DEP’s recommendation, the funds aren’t yet a sure thing. In addition to needing the EPA’s approval, the funds are also contingent upon the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the DEP’s Nonpoint Source Program FY14 work plan, and also on the department’s final appropriation from the EPA. The EPA is expected to finalize those details by next spring.
The Lake Gardner and Powow River NPS Improvement Project was one of seven projects statewide to receive recommendation from the DEP, and if approved by the EPA, Amesbury will receive $166,000 to conduct the cleanup.
Kezer said he doesn’t know what specific actions will be taken as part of the project to clean up the local waterways, but he will be discussing the matter with the Lakes and Waterways Commission over the coming weeks to establish a specific plan.
“We let those groups take the lead on these efforts as to what actions they need to do,” Kezer said. “They have a lot of people who are very well informed on what these tasks are, and on our side they work with Rob Desmarais, our DPW director, on all these water source issues that directly involve an action of the city.”
Once the project has been approved and the funding is in place, the DEP said it would work with Amesbury to make sure the project is ready to go on schedule.
“The [program staff] will work with you to negotiate the final scope, budget, and timeline so that the contract processing can begin promptly once the appropriated grant funds are in place,” the DEP wrote to Kezer in a letter announcing the award.
The expected start date would be in the late spring of 2014, according to DEP, although some projects may be fast-tracked for an earlier start date.