Federal Grants to Help Protect Buzzards Bay

By ecoRI News staff

Nearly $800,000 in federal grant money will be used to help towns and organizations protect water quality in Buzzards Bay. The water-quality management grants, totaling $794,478, were recently awarded by the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program through the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The federal grants are being matched by $346,451in municipal and private contributions, and focus on supporting the EPA’s Southeast New England Program mission to protect and restore the southeast New England ecosystem by addressing nutrient, pathogen and stormwater-related issues within the Buzzards Bay watershed.

“Nutrient and pathogen pollution can have significant impacts on coastal waters, closing areas to shellfishing and swimming and impairing the health of estuary habitats,” CZM director Bruce Carlisle said.

The following six grants were awarded:

Buzzards Bay Coalition ($200,000) will partner with the towns of Wareham, Bourne and Plymouth and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy to evaluate the possible relocating of the Wareham wastewater treatment facility discharge from the Agawam River to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s existing, well-flushed discharge into the Cape Cod Canal. In addition, a sewer-needs analysis will be performed within the Agawam and Wareham rivers and the Buttermilk and Little Buttermilk Bay watersheds to determine how much sewering is required to meet water-quality goals.

Marine Biological Laboratory ($175,918) will partner with the Buzzards Bay Coalition and Barnstable County Department of Health and the Environment to quantify the nitrogen-removal benefits of conversion of traditional Title V septic systems to innovative alternative systems. In addition, they will determine whether the addition of a carbon source will increase nitrogen removal in alternative systems. The project will take place in West Falmouth Harbor.

Town of Marion ($200,000) will coordinate with the town of Mattapoisett and the Buzzards Bay Coalition in hiring a consultant to design an expanded sewage collection system from Marion’s wastewater treatment facility into the existing densely developed neighborhoods of Indian Cove (Marion) and Harbor Beach (Mattapoisett) on Aucoot Cove.

Town of Falmouth ($53,950) will expand an oyster reef to reduce nitrogen loads to West Falmouth Harbor, near Mashapaquit Creek. The town will expand the existing quarter-acre reef to 1 acre by planting an additional 1,500 bags of oyster spat-on-shell, as a means to provide a biological filter for water in the Snug Harbor area, where there is a significant source of nutrients. The monitoring results of this project will inform the extent to which oyster reefs can effectively improve water quality, and can contribute to watershed nitrogen reduction for West Falmouth Harbor and other similar estuaries.

Town of Fairhaven ($58,350) will prepare designs and permit applications for green infrastructure stormwater best-management practices at four high-priority outfalls on Sconticut Neck. The effort will reduce pathogen and nutrient loading and other stormwater pollutants to Little Bay and Nasketucket Bay. In addition, the town proposes to conduct an inspection of septic systems on Sconticut Neck. Owners of failed septic systems will be required to tie into the town’s existing sewer line pursuant to Fairhaven’s sewer bylaw.

Town of Dartmouth ($106,260) will coordinate with the city of New Bedford to implement a series of best-management practices, including construction of an underground detention system and several proprietary treatment units, to treat stormwater runoff resulting from two outfalls at the end of Rodgers Street in Dartmouth. These outfalls discharge untreated stormwater runoff, which is generated from roadways in both Dartmouth and New Bedford, into Clark's Cove.