Newburyport, Wetlands

Well, I’m learning about wetlands. I’ll have to admit, even though I’m a Liberal Democrat, I’ve never quite gotten quite what all the whoop-la was about wetlands thing until recently.

My wetlands learning curve has been due in great part to people who one way or another have been connected to the Newburyport Political Blog. So a big “thank you” to all of you out there in web-land that have added to my wetlands education.

Basically, what I now get is that wetlands are like a big sponge that absorbs the water that would otherwise flood us.

So in the big flood this spring, Newburyport, even though it is on the Merrimac River, was largely sparred the enormous damage that other communities further up the river incurred. It was spared because of our marshes/wetlands. All that water spread out instead of up and was absorbed by all those marshy, wetland bogs.

So now I’m even a bigger fan of marshes than I was before. And as a painter, I’m a very, very big fan of Newburyport’s marshes.

So, the wetlands around the Little River, down around Low Street, act like a sponge during large, flooding rains. Ok, now I’m beginning to get that.

I’m also beginning to get that it’s not a good idea to fill those wetland/sponges up with cement, because then they cannot absorb all that water anymore. And that it’s also not a good idea to have a whole lot of cement around those wetlands, because all those hard surfaces act like a funnel, and it’s just too much water for the wetland/sponges to absorb.

And if we fill those wetland/sponges up with cement or have too much cement around them that means among other things that Newburyport’s Industrial Park will flood on a regular basis. And if Newburyport’s Industrial Park floods on a regular basis, no one is going to want to have a business there (who could blame them.) And if no one wants to have a business there, then we Newburyporters are in big trouble, because we need those businesses to help our tax base.

So, for a whole lot of reasons, including the wetland/sponge reason, it would be a really, really bad idea to have that large 40B project on the Woodman Property on Low Street.

So, now I’m beginning to get it, that preserving Open Space isn’t just for the “touchy-feely,” “crunchy-granola” folks. Preserving Open Space, especially around the Little River, is important to everyone. Including those folks who very much want to keep business in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

And one of the things that really helped me is the link which shows the Little River Basin during the recent floods. As Marlene Schroeder, who sent in the link in to me said, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” If you haven’t seen this map, I think it’s really, really interesting.

Mary Eaton, Newburyport

(Editor’s Note: Unfortunately the very excellent site is no longer up.)