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Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program

1996 Citizen's WQ Monitoring Report Glossary

Anoxic
A condition is which dissolved oxygen is absent. Anoxic water quality conditions often result in fish kills and shellfish mortality.

Algal bloom
A condition resulting from excessive nutrient levels or other physical and chemical conditions that enable algae to reproduce rapidly.

Anthropogenic
Human related effects. Anthropogenic impacts to water quality include wastewater from septic systems and treatment plant discharges, road and agricultural runoff, and acid rain.

Bathymetry
Measure of the depth of a water body. Important in determining the total volume of water in an embayment which is critical to nitrogen loading analysis.

Build-out Analysis
A parcel-by-parcel analysis to estimate the total number of existing and developable units, based on current zoning and other land use regulations. Such an analysis is essential for managing and limiting impacts of growth.

Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO)
A pipe that, during rain storms, discharges untreated wastewater from a sewer system that carries both sewage and stormwater. The overflow occurs because a system does not have the capacity to transport and treat the increased flow caused by stormwater runoff. New Bedford is the only Buzzards Bay municipality with CSO discharges.

Eelgrass(Zostera marina)
A marine flowering plant that grows subtidally in sand and mud. In Buzzards Bay, eelgrass is widespread and grows to depths of 20 feet in clear waters. Eelgrass beds are an important habitat and nursery for fish, shellfish, and waterfowl.

Embayment
A small bay or any small semi-enclosed coastal water body whose opening to a larger body of water is restricted. In Buzzards Bay there are over 30 major embayments in the form of harbors, coves, coastal lagoons (or salt pond), and river mouths.

Estuary
A semi-enclosed body of water having a free connection with the open ocean and within which seawater is measurably diluted with fresh water.

Eutrophication (coastal)
The process of nutrient enrichment in aquatic ecosystems. In marine systems, eutrophication results principally from nitrogen inputs from human activities such as sewage disposal and fertilizer use. The addition of nitrogen to coastal waters stimulates algal blooms and growth of bacteria, and can cause broad shifts in ecological communities present and contribute to anoxic events and fish kills. In freshwater systems and in parts of estuaries below 5 ppt salinity, phosphorous is likely to be the limiting nutrient and the cause of eutrophic effects.

Fecal Coliform
Bacteria that are present in the intestines and feces of warm-blooded animals and that are often used as indicators of the sanitary quality of water. Their degree of presence in water is expressed as the number of bacteria per 100 milliliters of the sample. The greater the number of fecal coliforms, the higher the risk of exposure to human pathogens. The indicator is used by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries in determining shellfish bed classification and local Boards of Health on swimming beach conditions.

Flushing Time
The mean length of time for a pollutant entering a water body to be removed by natural forces such as tides and currents; also referred to as residence time or turnover time, although there are important technical distinctions in their definitions.

Hypoxic
A condition in which dissolved oxygen is low or deficient. Hypoxic conditions stress marine plants and animals.

National Estuary Program
A state grant program within the US Environmental Protection Agency established under Section 320 of the Clean Water Act to designate estuaries of national significance and to incorporate scientific research into planning activities. Buzzards Bay was designated an Estuary of National Significance in 1985, thereby creating the Buzzards Bay NEP.

Phytoplankton
Microscopic algae suspended in the water column. They contains pigments known as chlorophylls and phaeophytons which make eutrophic waters look green or brown.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls
PCB): A class of chlorinated aromatic compounds composed of two fused benzene rings and two or more chlorine atoms; used in heat exchange, insulating fluids and other applications. There are 209 different PCBs. PCBs are present in marine sediments in New Bedford Harbor where their cleanup is being coordinated by the US EPA Superfund Program. They, as well as other toxic contaminants, are not monitored as part of the Buzzards Bay Citizens Water Quality Monitoring Program.

Ulva
A green sheet-like seaweed commonly called "sea lettuce". Enteromorpha is another green algae that typically grows in long, thin green tubes. Both are found in eutrophic areas.

Watershed
The land that surrounds a body of water and contributes freshwater, either from streams, groundwater or surface water runoff, to that body of water.