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$25K Grant Helps Westport's Harbor Watch Expand Lab For Students

Harbor Watch at Earthplace has received a $250,000 grant to expand its laboratory, enhance research and extend field work. Photo Credit:
Dick Harris, Nikki Cantatore, Josh Cooper and Peter Fraboni of Harbor Watch Photo Credit:

WESTPORT, Conn. -- Harbor Watch, the water-quality monitoring organization in Westport, will expand its laboratory beginning in 2015 using a $25,000 grant from the Fairfield County Community Foundation.

The grant matches a previous one provided by the Jeniam Foundation.

“Dick Harris has done an incredible job building a certified testing program and educational platform that produces the most reliable data on our watershed,” said Earthplace Executive Director Tony McDowell in a press release.

“This expansion is a testament to his vision, keen leadership and trust among the scientific community.”

The expansion will allow six teams to use the lab simultaneously, allowing Harbor Watch to enhance its ability to conduct research, detect pollutants and provide field science education.

This summer, Harbor Watch has two testing teams running field operations on nine streams, rivers and harbors.

The organization also hopes to protect biological diversity, commercial fishery operations and recreational opportunities at the Long Island Sound.

By expanding its field operations, the organization hopes to hold towns accountable for releasing bacteria, phosphates, nitrates and other contaminants that flow from storm drains and damage marine ecosystems.

Harbor Watch was established in 1988 by Program Director Richard Harris. Since 1993, Harbor Watch has been part of Earthplace, a non-profit environmental learning center founded in 1958 and located in Westport.

Harbor Watch provides opportunities for students from high schools in Westport, Norwalk, Redding, Fairfield, New Canaan, Wilton, Weston and Ridgefield.

It intends to place special attention to Norwalk schools and the Bridgeport Aquiculture Center to widen access to economically disadvantaged students.

Harbor Watch’s work is partially funded by grants from the Environmental Protection Agency and National Fish and Wildlife.

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