Wednesday 22 May 2019

West Rhode Riverkeeper

West/Rhode Riverkeeper, Inc. was founded in 2005 by Bob Gallagher, with a mission of stopping pollution, enforcing environmental law, promoting restoration, and advocating for better environmental policy.

Jeff Holland, West/Rhode Riverkeeper & Executive Director, came to the Riverkeeper organization in 2013 with a background in non-profit management and public relations. He served as Executive Director of the Captain Avery Museum in Shady Side in 2013 and the Executive Director of the Annapolis Maritime Museum from 2001 – 2012. Governor Martin O’Malley appointed him as a Maryland delegate on the Citizens Advisory Committee to the Chesapeake Bay Program in 2011. A singer and songwriter inspired by the Bay, Jeff was named “Poet Laureate of Eastport” in 1994 and was a founding member of the Chesapeake folk groups Crab Alley and Them Eastport Oyster Boys.

Read about the West/Rhode Riverkeeper in the News!

West/Rhode Riverkeeper has many programs to help improve the health of our rivers. Whether patrolling the rivers, monitoring construction sites, or promoting restoration, we are working with our community to stop pollution.


River Patrols for Pollution

West/Rhode Riverkeeper patrols our Rivers to look for sources of pollution, critical area violations, and other illegal activity that can harm our environment. We also occasionally take to the sky to observe our rivers from small planes.

Water Quality Monitoring

West/Rhode Riverkeeper operates a volunteer water quality monitoring program during the underwater grass growing season (April – October). We sample weekly for important indicators of river health, such as dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, salinity, and water clarity. It is critical to monitor for water quality in order to accurately assess the condition of our rivers. We also monitor bacteria levels in the summer months.

Pumpout Boat "HoneyDipper"

We are pleased to offer pump-out service for recreational boaters on the West and Rhode Rivers. This program is supported by a grant from Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Call us to get your holding tank pumped out. Let's keep waste out of our rivers!

Watershed Assessments

We conducted Watershed Assessments for the West and Rhode Rivers. These Assessments, in which we partnered with the Center for Watershed Protection, help us develop a game plan to take specific actions to improve the rivers' health. We walked the streams, neighborhoods, schools, and boatyards all across the watershed to do an assessment of the current conditions and potential for restoration. This work resulted in a prioritized list of actions to take to help clean up our Rivers.

Sustainable Lawncare

Fertilizer, herbicide, and other things we put on our lawns are a significant source of pollution in our rivers and the Bay. In 2009 Dr. Frank Gouin, a University of Maryland professor and the Bay Weekly's Bay Gardener, and Matt Ciminelli, a landscape professional, helped us to devise the West/Rhode Riverkeeper Growing Green lawn care program, a simple method for maintaining a healthy lawn that is also healthy for the rivers.

Get the Dirt Out

Construction sites are one potential source of sediment pollution. During a significant rainfall, a poorly maintained construction site can release muddy water into our streams, creeks, and rivers. Construction sites are covered under a state general permit, which outlines sediment and erosion control regulations by which they must abide. West/Rhode Riverkeeper is committed to monitoring construction sites to make sure that they are taking the necessary precautions to protect our rivers from sediment pollution. We call it Get the Dirt Out. We train volunteer “mudbusters” to help us.

Oyster Restoration

Oysters are an important natural resource. They filter the water and oyster reefs provide habitat for other aquatic life. Sadly, the number of oysters in the Bay is near 1% of the historic levels.  To help bring more oysters to our rivers West/Rhode Riverkeeper partners with two programs, the Marylanders Grow Oysters Progam in the Rhode River and Project Oyster West River (POWeR) in the West River.  With both of these programs we work to get the public involved in taking care of their own "mini oyster reef" where wildlife of all kinds thrive.

Septic System Upgrades

Septic Systems, especially those in the Critical Area, can be a significant source of nitrogen pollution when they are failing or are not maintained in good condition. Conventional septic systems deliver a large portion of the nitrogen into the groundwater and ultimately into our rivers. New nitrogen-reducing systems can dramatically reduce the amount of nitrogen pollution coming from a septic system. Grant money may be available from the Bay Restoration Fund to offset costs of replacing older septic systems with newer nitrogen reducing models.


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