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Children's book author lends support to Groton initiative highlighting importance of clean waterways

Groton — In the children’s book titled "River," a woman takes a canoe trip down the Hudson River from the Adirondack Mountains to New York City. While it’s an adventure tale, the underlying message is to look closely at and protect the beauty of nature that surrounds us, author and illustrator Elisha Cooper said.

“My hope is that through art and through writing, we look at the world and recognize how beautiful it is and then we do the legislation and all the good things we can do to protect it,” he said.

He recently donated copies of the book to the Groton Public Library and created original watercolors of the Thames, Poquonnock and Mystic rivers that will be on display at the library, part of an effort in Groton to raise awareness about the importance of protecting waterways.

Cooper, a Connecticut native who grew up visiting Mystic and now lives in New York City, said Connecticut’s rivers hold a special place in his heart, as do all rivers and all nature. So, when he was asked to help, he wanted to support the local initiative tied to World Rivers Day.

Groton Public Works, with other town departments, is hosting a series of events to raise awareness about the importance of clean waterways. The events are inspired by World Rivers Day, a “celebration of the world’s waterways” that “highlights the many values of our rivers, strives to increase public awareness, and encourages the improved stewardship of all rivers around the world,” according to the World Rivers Day website. Conservationist Mark Angelo initiated the international celebration, which officially is held each year on the fourth Sunday of September.

Groton Public Works planned the events to call attention to its “efforts to uphold its clean water obligations" under the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's Municipal Storm Sewer System, or "MS4 permit," to tackle “non-point source pollution,” such as fertilizers, pesticides, car-washing and pet and nuisance bird waste, according to an announcement.

Michelle Maitland, project management specialist for the Public Works Department, said people may think of storm sewers as being a tool to prevent flooding — which they are — but they also are directly linked to the water quality in rivers and Long Island Sound.

As indicated by the phrase, “If it goes in the ground, it goes in the Sound,” the water that enters storm sewers drains directly to local waterways, she said, so people’s everyday actions affect the water quality of rivers and Long Island Sound.

As part of the celebration, the town Parks and Recreation Department will hold a cleanup event from 8 to 9 a.m. this Sunday at Sutton Park, 185 Fort Hill Road. According to the event description, people will help pick up trash at the skate park and nearby brook and learn about waterways.  

Cooper’s original watercolors will be on display at the library starting next Wednesday, with plans to later auction them off to support clean water efforts in Groton, said Maitland. Library staff also created a YouTube episode of “Get Outside with GPL!” that features local waterways. River-themed poems, including by local poets, also will be displayed on the Public Works Department's website.

To register for the cleanup, contact Jessica Patterson at People are required to wear masks and social distance. The town will provide pickers and gloves.

Copies of Cooper's books can be purchased at Bank Square Books in Mystic,

How to help

Tips to keep waterways clean

  • Pick up pet waste and throw it in the garbage

  • Regularly have home's septic system inspected, don’t use additives and pump out every three to five years

  • Be more tolerant of lawn pests and weeds, learn organic lawn care and decrease lawn size by planting more shrubs, trees, or groundcover

  • Direct home downspouts toward flat, well-vegetated areas or to a dry-well, French drain or rain garden, instead of to pavement


Tips for community groups

  • Install rain barrels and/or plant rain gardens along a route

  • Plant native plants near streams and ponds to filter water and reduce nuisance waterfowl

  • Hold a meeting on improving local watersheds or participate in an improvement project

  • Plant shade-trees by pavement

  • Sponsor a pet waste station to help walkers clean up after pets

  • Host or participate in a cleanup event

Source: Town of Groton Public Works



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