WINDHAM — When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced his merit award yesterday, Cobbett’s Pond resident Derek Monson wanted people to understand the honor belongs to others.
“You know it’s tough, right?” Monson asked. “I’m the point guy, but that doesn’t mean I’m doing this all alone. A group of folks is involved. This is an award for everybody.”
What Monson, 42, does is work with his neighbors, fellow members of the Cobbett’s Pond Improvement Association, town officials, and those at the state Department of Environmental Services to help preserve and improve the pond’s water quality.
“Under Monson’s leadership, the pond improvement association received funds to restore the watershed in 2008,” EPA said.
Monson helped establish a protective stormwater management system.
“Monson put the plan and its recommended best management practices into place, earning the trust of neighbors and town officials and leading to 16 rain gardens, grass treatment swales and other protections,” EPA said.
The EPA credited Monson with leading $450,000 in projects to improve the pond and the overall health of the watershed.
“Monson’s knowledge and hard work lead many to think he is a paid professional, but he accomplished all this as a volunteer,” EPA said.
Kathleen DiFruscia, a former selectman, is a Cobbett’s Pond resident who has provided legal counsel to the group for 30 years.
“Fantastic, well deserved,” DiFruscia said of the award. “He is an active and important member of our association.”
Not only has Monson worked on grants and water protection programs, he also helped DiFruscia craft a watershed ordinance for both Cobbett’s Pond and Canobie Lake.
“He’s always on top of everything,” DiFruscia said. “He understands what an important asset Cobbett’s Pond is, not only for the people who live there but the town.”