BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, seeking comments on the draft documents identifying the need to limit and reduce the nutrient nitrogen in the coastal waters of Wild Harbor, Fiddlers Cove - Rands Harbor and Quissett Harbor estuarine systems. The meeting begins at 3 p.m. in the Hermann Room at the Falmouth Public Library, 300 Main Street.
The restoration plans for these estuary systems, formulated by MassDEP and the University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST), is proposed as part of a comprehensive, collaborative project intended to improve estuarine water quality in 70 embayments along the southeastern Massachusetts coastline.
These coastal water body systems are currently impaired because of excess nutrients, mainly nitrogen, which chokes water bodies with harmful algae, depletes oxygen for fish and shellfish populations, destroys critical eelgrass beds needed for sustaining marine life and reduces swimming, fishing and boating opportunities throughout these local waters.
At the public meeting, MassDEP staff will present a draft Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for limiting nitrogen to the amounts that the water bodies can absorb without violating water quality standards and impairing uses such as fishing and recreational activities. The plan calls for reducing watershed sources of nitrogen by up to nearly 60 percent. Most of the reductions will be from better treatment and handling of wastewater, but nitrogen from storm water and fertilizer use should also be controlled wherever possible.
The major components of this effort include a minimum of three years of chemical, physical and biological studies within the Wild Harbor, Fiddlers Cove - Rands Harbor, and Quissett Harbor estuarine systems, and the use of a dynamic water quality model to determine the present sources of nitrogen and the loading rates, the nitrogen concentrations in the embayment, the nitrogen concentrations that will result in the restoration and protection of the embayment, and the target nitrogen-loading rates that will achieve those protective concentrations. This watershed modeling and TMDL analysis will serve as a planning tool for communities to implement new comprehensive wastewater management strategies in order to improve estuarine water quality.
A copy of these MassDEP Draft TMDL Reports for Total Nitrogen and a further explanation of the TMDL Program are available here.
The Massachusetts Estuaries Project Final Technical Reports for Wild Harbor, Fiddlers Cove-Rands Harbor, and Quissett Harbor, on which the TMDLs are based, are available here.
The public comment period ends at 5 p.m., October 13, 2017. Written comments can be submitted to: Barbara Kickham, Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Watershed Management, 8 New Bond Street, Worcester, MA 01606. Electronic format comments should be sent to: [email protected]
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.