Years of habitat restoration work means thousands of herring are now swimming up the North River from Scituate to Pembroke — only to have their offspring sucked into Brockton’s water supply.
After years of building fish ladders, tearing down dams and cleaning up the rivers of the South Shore, environmental advocates celebrated a milestone last spring as some 300,000 herring – more than twice as many as two years earlier – made the long journey up the North River from Scituate to Pembroke to spawn.
Only months later, there was bad news: roughly 2,500 dead herring had washed up on the shore of Silver Lake in Kingston.
It wasn’t the dead fish that concerned Samantha Woods, executive director of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, but that they were in Silver Lake at all. Herring have no natural way to reach the lake, which has been cut off from the Jones River for years; Woods says they could only have been sucked out of ponds in Pembroke when the city of Brockton opened a culvert in Pembroke to replenish its water supply. Once in the lake, the fish were trapped.
“Are we going to let them die after spending all this time, money and energy to restore their spawning habitat?” said Woods, who has helped organize a petition calling on Brockton to change its water management practices.