The Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) received a financial boost with a $35,000 grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust. This funding will enable BEAT to continue their work surveying and sampling stormwater outfalls (e.g. pipes emptying into our rivers) in Berkshire County.

Since 2014, BEAT’s work on water quality has identified over 100 previously unmapped outfalls, and as recently as the spring of 2017, identified at least one dispensing raw sewage into the Housatonic River. That outfall has since been remediated.

The project has trained dozens of citizen scientists to use smartphone technology with a special form that BEAT developed to document stormwater outfalls in Berkshire County and contribute that data to a larger regional database. “This grant will allow BEAT to continue working with students, interns, and volunteers using cutting edge technology to test the quality of the water flowing directly into the Housatonic River and other waterbodies,” said Jane Winn, Executive Director of BEAT.

According to Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton, the Trust will provide over $500,00 in grants to 16 organizations this year, thanks to motorists who choose to purchase one of the Trust’s specialty license plates. Beaton said, “This funding has been made possible because over 40,000 drivers in Massachusetts choose to purchase one of the three environmental license plates, and I applaud our state’s residents for their continued commitment to the well-being of the Commonwealth’s environment.”

Working with Berkshire Community College (BCC) students has been a key part of this water quality project. Winn continued, “Our partnership with BCC has given their students field experience using microbiology for public health and environmental stewardship projects.”

For this project, BEAT worked with the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) who developed the quality assurance project plan (QAPP) and oversees training and collection practices.

Supporting the environmental programs funded by the Trust in your community is easy: choose one of three environmental plates, the Right Whale & Roseate Terns, The Leaping Brook Trout, or the Blackstone Valley Mill when you purchase or lease a new car or renew your registration with the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

The standard registration fee for a Massachusetts plate is $60.00. The special plate fee is an additional $40.00 (tax-deductible every two years) for a total cost of $100. Every time you renew your registration, you are supporting the Trust.

Visit your local Registry of Motor Vehicles to order a plate online by going here or here. You can also go here to learn more about the Trust, the programs it supports, and the specialty license plate offerings.

(press release sent to WSBS from the Berkshire Environmental Action Team for online and on-air use, picture taken from BEAT's Facebook Page)