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Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program

Past Events, News, and Updates

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Some Past Stories from our Homepage

Buzzards Bay NEP Staff Changes

In September, the Buzzards Bay NEP announced it had hired two Stormwater Specialists - Kevin Bartsch and Bernadette Taber. One of their main focusses will be to provide support to the Buzzards Bay Action Committee in their recently announced EPA grant, where the NEP and BBAC will collaborate with five municipalities create a comprehensive stormwater GIS mapping and monitoring program. This program will support an intermunicipal initiative to map stormwater networks and monitor discharges contributing to shellfish bed and bathing beach closures and other water quality impairments. Bernadette, aka, Bernie, was a long-time former employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service detailed to the BBNEP since 1991. She has re-joined the BBNEP after leaving federal service earlier this year. Bernie evaluates and develops engineering solutions for stormwater remediation in both agricultural and urban environments. She has reviewed many engineering plans at the request of Buzzards Bay municipalities, and has also developed preliminary stormwater and habitat restoration designs in collaboration with municipalities and their contractors. Kevin has a Master’s Degree in watershed science and more than 20 years of experience in GIS data development and modeling. He possesses a wealth of knowledge in utility infrastructure (water, wastewater, and electric), asset management, soil erosion, natural resource management, and open space protection. Kevin also volunteers as the director and current president of the Wareham Land Trust. Welcome Bernie and Kevin!

This past summer, longtime Buzzards Bay NEP Wetlands Specialist John Rockwell retired from state service. John began with the Buzzards Bay NEP in 1992 as an intern while working on his master's thesis from Antioch University. Previously he worked as a conservation agent in the Town of Westport, and was a member of the Marion Conservation Commission. His masters thesis on wetland delineation methodologies, and his professional experience with state and federal wetland regulations, and his experience conducting wetland delineation training for the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commission members made John the ideal hire for the Buzzards Bay NEP and for implementing a wetland technical assistance program to Buzzards Bay watershed municipalities. His training materials are posted on our wetland delineation information page. John's talents and skills will be sorely missed.

NEP 2015 Water Quality Management Grant Proposals Under Review

This summer, the Buzzards Bay and Narragansett Estuary Programs have each issued a request for proposals for nutrient, pathogen, and stormwater management projects under the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (U.S. EPA) Southeast New England Program ("SNEP"). Projects that address fresh or marine water quality degradation from nutrients (phosphorus or nitrogen), pathogens, and stormwater will be considered. Each NEP announced it will award up to $900,000 in grants. This grant program supports the U.S. EPA's SNEP mission to protect and restore the southeast New England ecosystem by connecting communities through collaboration and partnerships throughout the region; fostering and promoting innovative approaches; and engaging public stewardship.

The deadline for pre-proposals was September 15, 2015. Eight applicants were invited to submit full proposals. Go to our SNEP grant application page for more information.

Severe Ice in Buzzards Bay Last Winter

During much of February and early March 2015, sea ice was extensive in Buzzards Bay, covering at its maximum, nearly the eastern third of Buzzards Bay. The level of icing caused the Coast Guard to recommend that vessels avoid the Woods Hole Passage. The Northeast Marine Pilots Association adopted the following measures for applicable vessels transiting the waterways of southeastern New England: daylight-only transits and minimum one nautical mile visibility in all serviced harbors, and through the Cape Cod Canal. The MODIS satellite false color image below from February 28, 2015 shows the extent of icing in Buzzards Bay and areas of Cape Cod.

Sea Ice in Buzzards Bay, 28 February 2015 MODIS

Southern New England Program 2015 Funding

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has received a third year of funding totaling $5 million to implement an initiative called the Southern New England Program (SNEP; formerly Southern New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program). The goal of this initiative is to bring together public and private stakeholders to collaborate on initiatives to protect, enhance, and restore watersheds along southeastern New England. The geographic area of the program includes the coastal waters and watershed lands spanning from Westerly, Rhode Island to Pleasant Bay, Massachusetts. The watersheds of Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay, the south side of Cape Cod and the Islands face similar opportunities and challenges. The program's goal is to help promote and develop innovative and effective approaches to preserve and restore the region's critical resources. For more information about the SNEP activities in the Buzzards Bay watershed, go to our website restore.buzzardsbay.org.

Other Popular Pages and Downloads

Spring 2015 lecture Series

The New Bedford Whaling Museum and the Buzzards Bay Coalition are teaming up to a offer a 3 part lecture series titled, "Where the Land Meets the Sea: Working to Restore and Maintain the Health of the Buzzards Bay Watershed." The Wednesday evening lectures include presentation by environmentalists on the restoration of rivers, estuaries, and New Bedford Harbor. The series will be held at the museum on March 25, April 1, and April 8 at 6:30 p.m. Go to www.whalingmuseum.org/programs/where-land-meets-sea-2015 for more information.

Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Completed

Earlier this year, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program hired the environmental planning group SeaPlan to undertake a climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning study for water quality infrastructure in New Bedford, Fairhaven and Acushnet. SeaPlan has completed that study, and their final report is posted for comment at our SeaPlan study webpage. Besides the online report, SeaPlan developed two online viewers to characterize the vulnerabilities of specific sites in the three municipalities to various hurricane and potential sea level rise scenarios. These viewers are available at the above link.

Updated Buzzards Bay Management Plan Available

In November 2013, the Buzzards Bay NEP steering Committee approved the 2013 update of the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP). The original CCMP, developed in 1991, became a blueprint for NEP and its partners in their forthcoming efforts to protect and restore the water quality and living resources of Buzzards Bay and its surrounding watershed. The CCMP introduced many new concepts to local government including the need to establish watershed limits on the discharge of nitrogen from wastewater (especially septic systems) and other nitrogen sources, the importance of stormwater discharges as a cause of bathing beach and shellfish bed closures, and the recognition that the climate was changing. The Buzzards Bay NEP has now updated the Buzzards Bay CCMP to reflect progress achieved, new problems facing the bay and its surrounding watershed, and the ongoing unresolved problems that remain since the original plan was finalized. This updated Buzzards Bay CCMP includes existing, new, and revised goals that relate to 21 key issues facing the bay and watershed. In each of the 21 "Action Plans," we identify strategies for government, citizens groups, and the public to employ to meet the continuing challenges we face.

The document is posted online and hard copies of the updated management plan will distributed to local libraries and municipal boards in early 2014. Go to our New CCMP page to read the document.

Buzzards Bay NEP Undertaking Sea Level Rise study

The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program (BBNEP) and the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management are evaluating the potential expansion of the existing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 100-year floodplain using Flood Insurance Rate Map base flood elevations for Buzzards Bay municipalities. The floodplain will be expanded with 1-foot, 2-foot, and 4-foot scenario increases in sea level. The existing floodplain will be extrapolated upward based on the FIRM base flood elevations. Using a recent assessor's data set, the number of buildings, their assessed values, and municipal structures are being enumerated within these various sea level rise expansion scenarios for each Buzzards Bay municipality. Go to our Flood Zone Expansion with SLR page for more information about the project and to read 6 new draft reports for Buzzards Bay towns.

BBNEP Awards Stormwater Design Plan for New Bedford Waterfront area.

The Buzzards Bay NEP is seeking proposals for the creation of a stormwater plan for selected portion of the New Bedford Harbor Waterfront. Go to our New Bedford Stormwater Designs RFR page for more information.

1980s Historical Eelgrass GIS Coverage Posted

On our eelgrass page we have posted links to download GIS data showing the distribution of eelgrass mapped in Buzzards Bay during the 1980s. In most of Buzzards Bay, eelgrass reached it post-1930s wasting disease peak abundance in this decade. In the coming weeks we plan on disturbing new GIS coverages, maps, and georeferenced aerial photographs showing eelgrass abundance in the 1940s, 1960s, and 1970s for selected parts of Buzzards Bay.

April 17, 2014 Workshop: Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Planning Study for New Bedford, Fairhaven, and Acushnet

SeaPlan will hold a workshop on their findings and recommendations of their climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning study for water quality infrastructure in New Bedford, Fairhaven, and Acushnet. The target audience will be municipal employees and staff of New Bedford, Fairhaven, and Acushnet, and waterfront users of the three communities, but other interested federal, state, regional, and local partners are encouraged to attend to help guide the discussion and formulate priorities. Please go to our Fairhaven-Acushnet-New Bedford climate assessment and planning study page for more information and to register.

Buzzards Bay NEP hires Polaris Consultants for Westport Stormwater Project

The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program has awarded a $20,000 contract to Polaris Consultants, LLC to develop stormwater treatment plans for the Drift Road drainage system in the Town of Westport, MA. The goal of this project is to reduce stormwater-related pollutants from discharging into the East Branch of the Westport River. The stormwater discharges to an area where the shellfish beds are closed after two-tenths of an inch of rain. Go to our Drift Road stormwater designs procurement page for more information about this project.

Buzzards Bay NEP Launches StormSmart Climate Ready Buzzards Bay Website

The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program has established this sub-domain website to consolidate information, data, and assessments undertaken by the Buzzards Bay NEP and others to help inform and guide local managers and the public about potential impacts from storms, shifting shorelines, rising sea level, and potential changes in climate and adaptation strategies. The site includes interactive maps of the floodplains and other data. Please go to our Storm Smart Climate Ready Buzzards Bay website for more information.

New Bedford Harbor Climate Ready Estuary and Storm Smart Planning Study

In December, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, through the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), hired the ocean planning firm SeaPlan to conduct a climate ready estuary assessment and planning effort for the municipalities surrounding New Bedford Harbor. The purpose of this study is to develop an understanding of possible impacts of climate change and potential future responses by the Towns of Acushnet and Fairhaven, and the City of New Bedford. Of specific concern is how future increases of sea level, precipitation, and frequency or intensity of storms may affect public infrastructure related to water quality and habitat protection. Please go to our Fairhaven-Acushnet-New Bedford climate assessment and planning study page for more information.

Buzzards Bay NEP seeking Stormwater Engineering Design Services

In partnership with the Town of Westport, and as part of our municipal grant program, the Buzzards Bay NEP is seeking engineering services to assist the Town of Westport develop stormwater treatment designs to reduce stormwater volumes and pollutants contributing to water quality impairments in the East Branch of the Westport River. The RFR was posted April 18, 2013, the bidders' conference is Tuesday, May 7, at 11:00 AM, and proposals were due Thursday, May 30 by 4:00 PM. Go to our stormwater designs procurement page for more information (see link under active RFRs).

Buzzards Bay NEP Announces $122,000 in Environmental Grants to Five Municipalities

The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, part of the Office of Coastal Zone Management, and administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, will award grants to five Buzzards Bay watershed municipalities to fund land conservation and infrastructure improvement projects designed to conserve open space and rare species habitat, protect drinking water resources, restore wetlands, study nitrogen discharges to estuaries, and help open shellfish beds. Go to our Funding page for more information about the grants.

Information on Hurricane Sandy impacts to Buzzards Bay plus photos from Falmouth

While New York and New Jersey were devastated by Hurricane Sandy, the impacts of the storm to the Buzzards Bay area were relatively minor, both because we were so distant from the eye, and because, with Sandy's persistent easterly winds, Buzzards Bay was on the lee side of Cape Cod, and relatively well protected. Some areas, however, did experience coastal erosion more severe than the damage caused by either Tropical Storm Irene and the 2007 Nor'easter. Among Buzzards Bay watershed communities, the greatest damage occurred on the south facing side of Falmouth (on Vineyard Sound), and on the south coast of Westport. Go to our Hurricane Sandy impacts page for more information about the storms local impacts.

Cochlodinium Blooms in Buzzards Bay

The Buzzards Bay NEP, and our partner, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, have received many reports of pronounced blooms of Cochlodinium in Buzzards Bay. Go to our Dinoflagellate Blooms page for information and links.

Google Earth Maps of new FEMA flood zones

FEMA has posted new digital flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs) for Buzzards Bay. We have posted important links, as well as a useful Google Earth file we created on our FEMA information page, to help residents better understand areas subject to storm flow. We have also obtained new LIDAR data from FEMA which we used to prepare this 15-foot Marion elevation zone map for the Marion Conservation Commission.

Buzzards Bay NEP initiating study of salt marsh expansion and migration with sea level rise

Help document the 2013 King Tide in Buzzards Bay on June 22

We are encouraging area residents to submit photographs of the 2013 annual high tide in Buzzards Bay, just before 8:00 PM on Saturday June 22 (about 20 minutes before sunset). There two reasons to photograph the predicted annual high tide, also nicknamed the "King Tide." First, as part of a growing national King Tide photo initiative, the annual high tide is a useful tool to communicate what future elevated sea levels will look like. Second, the annual high tide at a site has regulatory significance in that in often defines requirements for state and federal permits. Go to our Buzzards Bay King Tides page to learn more.

Information on past Wind Farm proposals for Buzzards Bay

Looking for information about the South Coast Offshore Wind Project? Read about meetings, and the information we posted about a similar 2002 proposal for Buzzards Bay that explains many of the regulatory and environmental issues that would need to be addressed for siting wind turbines in Buzzards Bay on our Wind Farms page. Have you noticed a windmill to the south as you have crossed the Bourne Bridge? We have a photo of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy wind turbine that began operation in 2006, as well as information on the water turbines proposed for Vineyard Sound.

Massachusetts Estuaries Project reports for Buzzards Bay

Reports for West Falmouth Harbor and Phinneys Harbor / Back River complex have been released. Other reports will become available in the coming years. We have provided some support for this effort for selected subwatersheds as described on our Subwatershed Land Use and Nitrogen Loading page.

WETLAND LOSS MAPS available for viewing.
We have updated our wetland loss page to include new maps we produced based on DEP's wetland change maps sent to Buzzards Bay municipalities in 2004. Click the link to read more.

Bouchard No. 120 Oil Spill in Buzzards Bay
On April 27, 2003, an oil barge, carrying 4.1 million gallons of No. 6 fuel oil, spilled an estimated 98,000 gallons of oil into Buzzards Bay, the second largest spill in the bay's history. More than 93 miles of coastline were affected, and hundreds of birds killed. Click the link above to see recent cleanup summary reports. Other popular pages and links include our page US Coast Guard: 98,000 gallons best estimate of oil spilled, the New Bedford Standard Times Op Ed article on how the Buzzards Bay NEP helped in this determination, and our Oil Spill Legislation page.

Living Resources of Buzzards Bay: Synthesis reports produced for the 1991 Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, 2013 Redux, Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program Technical Report, Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management, October 18, 2013. 98 pp.

Have you confused us with another Buzzards Bay organization?

In the 1980s, the Buzzards Bay NEP had a "Citizen Advisory Committee" or CAC that was part of the program and was helping with the evaluation of pollution and identification of management options to protect and restore Buzzards Bay. This CAC broke off from the Buzzards Bay NEP and eventually became two independent, not-for-profit organizations. The first organization called itself The Coalition for Buzzards Bay. It was a '501(c)3' educational and outreach a citizen-based group. The second became the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, a non-profit organization composed of municipal officials, that has become more involved with state, local, and federal legislative and regulatory issues. Today, both organizations are on the Buzzards Bay NEP's Steering Committee, and both have adopted as one of their major goals, the implementation of recommendations contained in the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan.

The views or information contained here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or the US EPA.

Availability of 2013 Buzzards Bay Municipal Grant Funding

This spring, the Buzzards Bay NEP, through the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ (EEA) Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) is making available $83,460 in federal funds as part of the Buzzards Bay municipal grant program. (Please note the funding amount has been decreased due to federal budget cuts as a result of the federal budget sequester.) Funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and administered by our program, this grant program aids towns in testing and treating stormwater discharges, protecting wetlands and wildlife habitat, improving water supplies and safeguarding open spaces. The Buzzards Bay NEP posted a Request for Responses (RFR) as part of our municipal grant program at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Comm-Pass.com system. Applications are due by 4 PM, Thursday, June 27, 2013. Go to our Funding page for more information.

Green Seal Environmental Inc. developing stormwater treatment designs for Wareham Main Street.

In partnership with the Town of Wareham’s Community and Economic Development Authority (CEDA), the Buzzards Bay NEP used $20,000 in federal funds to hire Green Seal Environmental Inc. to develop stormwater treatment designs for the Main Street drainage system in the Town of Wareham, MA to reduce stormwater-related pollutants discharging to the Wareham River estuary. Go to our Stormwater Engineering Designs Procurement page for more information.

Buzzards Bay Action Committee hosts Earth Day Expo on Saturday, April 20, 2013

The BBAC invites area residents to come to the Fairhaven Senior Center on Rt. 6 in Fairhaven on Saturday, April 20, 2013 to celebrate Earth Day. Events are scheduled 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. and include a bird walk, lectures and music. Go to the BBAC website for the full program and more information.

Buzzards Bay NEP seeking Stormwater Engineering Design Services

In partnership with the Town of Bourne, and as part of our municipal grant program, the Buzzards Bay NEP is seeking engineering services to assist the Town of Bourne develop stormwater treatment designs to reduce stormwater volumes and pollutants discharging contributing to water quality impairments in Cohasset Narrows. The RFR was posted April 12, 2012, and the application due date is Friday, June 1, 2012 by 4:00 PM. Go to our stormwater designs procurement page for more information (see link under active RFRs).

Shellfish Closure Trends Updated

We have reviewed correspondence from Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries to Buzzards Bay watershed municipalities about changes in shellfish resource area status and boundaries to update our shellfish resource area closure maps and trends chart through 2011. Go to our Current Shellfish Resource Area Closures page to see the new July 1 status trends chart. As shown, the acreage of permanently closed shellfish bed closures in Buzzards Bay continue to decline, albeit at a slower pace than past years.

Shellfish Catch Trends in Buzzards Bay versus Massachusetts

We have used a data set of municipal shellfish catch and permit data collected and maintained by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) (with some updated information we collected for Buzzards Bay municipalities) to compare trends in Buzzards Bay to the rest of Massachusetts. In general, shellfish permit and catch statistics in Buzzards Bay have been consistent with overall trends in Massachusetts during the past 50 years. In both Buzzards Bay and the rest of the state, the relative number of commercial shellfish permits issued has decreased somewhat. There appears to be a slight drop off in the early to 2000s, possibly in part due to the oil spill in Buzzards Bay and red tide closures elsewhere around the state. We prepare two web pages with information on this data set. Start with this webpage: Shellfish Trends Buzzards Bay vs MA to see the graphs of key species.

June 2012 NRCS Services Procurement Notice

The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, a technical assistance and planning unit within the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, within the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EEA) intends to enter into an agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide technical assistance to municipalities in the Buzzards Bay watershed on a variety of environmental protection and restoration activities on issues relating to stormwater management, erosion and sediment reduction, and wildlife/wetland habitat improvements. Go to our NRCS services procurement page for more information.

Faces Presentation

The January 25, 2012 presentation titled "The Living Resources and Water Quality of Buzzards Bay: Trends and Opportunities" given to the to the Falmouth Associations Concerned with Estuaries and Saltponds is available on this FACES 2012 talk page.

Buzzards Bay NEP Awards $180,000 in Grants to Watershed Municipalities

The Buzzards Bay NEP, through the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ (EEA) Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) announced on September 29, 2011 that $180,958 in grants for eight Buzzard Bay watershed municipalities. Funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and administered by our program, these grants will aid towns in testing and treating stormwater discharges, protecting wetlands and wildlife habitat, improving water supplies and safeguarding open spaces. Go to our grants and funding page for more information.

Information and Links on Bouchard Oil Spill Settlements Posted

In November 2010, the State, Federal Government, and Bouchard Transportation Co Inc. reached a partial settlement on the Natural Resource Damage Assessment for the spill, totaling $6 million. The impacts to certain birds, including endangered roseate terns, has not yet been finalized. Also in November 2010, one of the class action suits for damages claimed by property owners around Buzzards Bay was settled, totaling $11.45 million. In January 2011, a second settlement, totaling $12 million, was finalized on a separate class action lawsuit with Mattapoisett residents. Information about these settlements are included on our oil spill costs and oil spill status pages.

EPA releases draft municipal stormwater permits

On November 4, 2010, the US EPA published in the Federal Register, a new draft small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) general permit for public comment. A Federal Register Notice describing the public hearing and the extension of the public comment period was published in the Federal Register on February 15, 2011. The new permit covers stormwater discharges from urbanized areas of all Buzzards Bay communities. The new permit, which replaces the first permit issued in 2003, is described at this EPA MS4 permit website. Go to our Municipal MS4 Stormwater Permit page for more background information on the program. The new permit is expected to be finalized sometime late in 2011.

BBNEP prepares Buildout Analysis for Fairhaven

At the request of the Town of Marion DPW, as part of their effort to project future wastewater facility capacity needs, the Buzzards Bay Program updated its buildout analysis for the town of Fairhaven. Based on the BBNEP's analysis, the town of Fairhaven has the potential for more than 3,000 units to be built in the town. Read the draft Fairhaven 2010 Buildout Report (11 MB) for the results and an explanation of the methodology.



This page is a log of some past postings from our homepage.

BBAC hosts MACC Erosion Control Workshop

The Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions, in cooperation with the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, and Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management, is presenting an Erosion and Sediment Control Workshop (2 Hour Evening Version) titled "Erosion and Sediment Control: Options for Effective Prevention and Control"

When: Thursday, September 29, 2011 from 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Where: New Bedford City Hall, 133 William Street, Room 314
Cost: Free for Conservation Commissioners, other regulators and municipal employees; $25 for all others (go to MACC at: www.maccweb.org/edu_workshops_cal.html).

This workshop will outline effective methods of erosion prevention and sediment control, including available BMPs (Best Management Practices), their applications and jurisdiction. It will also explore specific BMPs for erosion & sediment control; management of construction runoff; dewatering solutions; and relating erosion and sediment control to the regulations. Handouts include: Copy of the presentation, Site Inspection Checklist, Checklist for Reviewing Construction Plans and Projects

Tropical Storm Irene Storm Damage in Buzzards Bay

In Southeastern Massachusetts, the impacts of Tropical Storm Irene on New England will likely best be remembered for the power outages it caused, and the televised scenes of damage caused by exceptionally heavy rains west of the storm's center and the resulting devastating inland river flooding in western New England. It will be less remembered for any coastal erosion it caused. Go to our Tropical Storm Irene page for more information on the storm conditions in Buzzards Bay and pictures of coastal erosion on the south side of Falmouth and East Beach Road in Westport.

Wareham Town Meeting Passes then Repeals Nitrogen Loading Bylaw, AG Weighs In

Since the early 1990s, the Buzzards Bay NEP has been providing technical assistance to various boards in the Town of Wareham in their efforts to adopt strategies to better manage nitrogen pollution to the town's coastal estuaries. In 2003, the Buzzards Bay NEP proposed revisions to the town's subdivision regulations and special permits, to require that a per acre loading limit be achieved by nitrogen removal onsite septic systems and other mechanisms. In 2006 and 2007,at the request of the Board of Selectmen, the BBNEP developed bylaws that would require nitrogen removal onsite septic systems for new construction. These efforts failed, and drafts of these bylaws and other background information related to this effort can be found on our Model Nitrogen Bylaw page.

In 2009, the Buzzards Bay Coalition started a new effort to develop a consensus among Wareham residents and town officials on how to best address nitrogen pollution in the town's estuaries. The Buzzards Bay NEP provided technical assistance to both the Coalition and workgroup members in their efforts to develop a new nitrogen management plan for the town. This new consensus document was finalized in the Summer of 2010 and was titled The Wareham Nitrogen Consensus, AN ACTION PLAN, 2010. The document included numerous recommendations, and the participants agreed to "work toward presentation of bylaws and regulations related to this goal by Fall 2010 or Spring 2011."

In the Fall of 2010, the Chairman of the Clean Water Committee brought an article to town meeting to require that new development with wastewater exceeding 3,300 gpd meet a no-net-nitrogen increase standard. This bylaw, Article 80 on the town warrant, passed on November 8, 2010. Specifically, the bylaw requires the Board of Health not to issue a permit for "any residential construction equal to or greater than ten (10) homes/units, totaling 3,300 GPD (Gallons per Day) or more, unless the standard of Nitrogen Net Zero has been met." The Buzzards Bay Coalition began working with the Board of Health to develop regulations that meet the terms of this bylaw.

However, concerns were raised about how the no-net-nitrogen increase standard would be achieved on a single lot, and opponents brought to the Wareham spring 2011 town meeting an article to repeal the bylaw, which was still under review by the Attorney General's office. In a June 10, 2011 letter to the town, the Attorney General noted the original bylaw is now moot, but that she would have disapproved the bylaw "on grounds of vagueness" because it did not specify how an applicant could meet the nitrogen net zero standard. Go to our Wareham page to see the AG's letters.

June 2011 NRCS Services Procurement Notice

The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, a technical assistance and planning unit within the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, within the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EEA) intends to enter into an agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide technical assistance to municipalities in the Buzzards Bay watershed on a variety of environmental protection and restoration activities on issues relating to stormwater management, erosion and sediment reduction, and wildlife/wetland habitat improvements. Go to our NRCS services procurement page for more information.

BBNEP updates Marion Buildout Analysis

At the request of the Town of Marion, the Buzzards Bay Program updated its buildout analysis for the town of Marion. Read the Marion 2009 Buildout Report for the results and an explanation of the methodology.

John Rockwell marks 20 years of wetland delineation training.

Since 1989, Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program Wetland Specialist, John Rockwell, has been training Conservation Commission members on how to delineate wetlands in cooperation with the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions, MACC. Go to this Wetland Delineation page for a long list of great links that cover just about all you need to know about performing and reviewing wetland delineations in Massachusetts.

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Buzzards Bay Municipal Grants Announced

On September 3, 2009, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Ian Bowles today announced $167,000 in federal grants to help eight South Coast communities protect and restore Buzzards Bay. Administered by the EEA Office of Coastal Zone Management's (CZM) Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, the grants help South Coast and Cape Cod communities to protect and restore water quality and natural resources in Buzzards Bay and its surrounding watershed. The towns will use these grants to protect and restore wetlands habitat and open space, design treatment solutions for stormwater discharges, and restore herring runs. Read the 2009 grant award summary.

The significance of 1100 acres of shellfish beds opening

In August 2008, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries did something rather profound. They opened more than 1,100 acres of Buzzards Bay to shellfishing, including some areas closed to shellfishing for more than 40 years. The newly opened shellfish resource areas were in outer New Bedford Harbor, and stretched from the middle of Clarks Point in New Bedford, to upper Sconticut Neck in Fairhaven. (Read more...).

Buzzards Bay NEP seeks new NRCS technical assistance agreement

The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program intends to enter into an agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide technical assistance to municipalities in the Buzzards Bay watershed on a variety of environmental protection and restoration activities on issues relating to stormwater management, erosion and sediment reduction, and wildlife/wetland habitat improvements. We last entered into such an agreement in 2007. Read the new procurement notice.

BBNEP Awards Stormwater Plan Contract for New Bedford Waterfront

In partnership with the City of New Bedford Harbor Development Commission, in January 2010, the Buzzards Bay NEP awarded to the firm Fuss & O'Neill, a $16,500 contract for the creation of a stormwater plan for several city-owned piers for the New Bedford Harbor waterfront. Go to our New Bedford Stormwater Designs RFR page for more information.

"Rusty Brown Tide" Observed Again in Buzzards Bay

On September 3, 2009 we received word from Tony Williams, water quality monitoring program coordinator for the Buzzards Bay Coalition, that he and two other volunteers observed blooms of the dinoflagellate Cochlodinium in Buzzards Bay in Wings Cove in Marion, and Broadmarsh River and Marks Cove in Wareham. On September 8, 2009, we also received a report from a Fairhaven resident that a rusty brown tide was observed in Nasketucket Bay. Go to our red tide page to learn more about red tides and the similar looking Cochlodinium blooms.

Proposed Prohibition of Commercial Scale Wind Farms in Buzzards Bay

On July 1, 2009, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management released the Draft Massachusetts Ocean Plan. One of the most significant recommendations in the plan is the prohibition of commercial scale wind farms in Buzzards Bay, except for a proposed designated area south of Cuttyhunk and southwest of Marthas Vineyard. Go to our Buzzards Bay Wind Turbines page to learn more.

Buzzards Bay Watershed Pathogen TMDLs approved

In May 2009, the US EPA Region 1 approved pathogen Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for 52 areas in the Buzzards Bay watershed. These TMDLs set water quality standards in 45 estuaries (covering 38.4 square miles) and seven river areas (extending 17.4 river miles) and will have broad implications for the treatment of stormwater, issuance of discharge permits, and the implementation municipal MS4 stormwater permits. Meeting the goals of the TMDL will take many years and possibly cost a billion dollars or more. Go to our Buzzards Bay Pathogen TMDL page to learn more.

Final Oil Spill Cleanup Report Posted

We have received from GEOInsight Inc. the Phase IV Final Inspection Report, Phase IV Completion Statement, and the Partial Class A-2 Response Action Outcome statement. The report, issued on the 6th anniversary of the oil spill, is probably the last report to the state for cleanup activities. Go to the Cleanup Status Page to view the combined report.

Salt Marsh Atlas Data updated

We have updated our salt marsh atlas webpage. Specifically we have added a new Google Earth software kml map file to this webpage (see link at the bottom) which has a lot more of the original 2002 atlas information, together with updated restoration status for all the sites. We have included links now to photos for many sites. If I site near you does not include a photograph, please email us a picture so we can include it in the database.

Please review our Protecting Public Health at Swimming Beaches Action Plan

We are updating our Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for Buzzards Bay, and we need your help. Our landmark management plan was written in 1991, and needs to be updated. This original plan was a great success. More than 60% of the recommendations were achieved, and substantial progress was made on many others. The adoption of the CCMP in 1992 led to many new initiatives, especially at the state and local level of government. Nonetheless it is clear that this management plan must be updated. Not only have new issues arisen in the environmental protection landscape, but new laws, regulations, and agency programs have been established that make the need for this update clear.

We are now developing a new management plan that will include new goals, objectives, and recommendations to meet the environmental needs of Buzzards Bay and its surrounding watershed into the next decade and beyond. This new document will also meet the requirements for an EEA-approved Watershed Action Plan, which will enable new funding opportunities through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Please Read and comment upon our new Protecting Public Health at Swimming Beaches.

Eelgrass declines in the northeast US

Northeast Boaters Magazine published an informative article titled Critical Grass by Joe Myerson that is worth reading. The article discusses recent losses of eelgrass in New England (including Buzzards Bay) and efforts to reverse the trend.

Do frequent septic system pumpouts reduce watershed nitrogen loading?

As more municipalities and residents come to appreciate the fact that groundwater discharges of nitrogen from septic systems are degrading water quality and living resources in their estuary, we receive this question from time to time. Go to this analysis page to see our answer.

2008 Cape Cod Manatee the same as 2006 Buzzards Bay Manatee?

In August 2006, a manatee traveled up the east coast, entered Buzzards Bay, spent a day or two here than began its return trip to Florida. This event was northernmost recorded migration of a manatee. That was until late in September 2008 when a manatee either crossed or traveled up Buzzards Bay to appear in the cold waters of Cape Cod Bay in East Dennis, MA, on the north side of Cape Cod. Is this the same manatee as observed in 2006? Go to our manatee page to learn more.

AD Makepeace submits plans for Tihonet Mixed Use Development

Planned future of 6,000 acres described

AD Makepeace has submitted plans to the state outlining potential development plans for 6,000 acres of land holdings in the Towns of Wareham, Carver and Plymouth. The development plans, stated to be at the 10% design stage, outline mixed use residential, village scale retail, light industrial, manufacturing, research and development, office, warehouse, medical office, retail space, a hotel, and over 1,850 residential units. Only a portion of the 6,000 acres will be developed. A considerable amount of the 6,000 acres will either remain as cranberry bogs, and some land will be set aside as open space. The state's MEPA office will hold an informational meeting on August 12 at the Wareham Town Hall Cafeteria at 1:30 PM. More information about the project is on our Town of Wareham page. For several years, at the request of the Board of Selectmen, the Buzzards Bay NEP has been providing technical assistance to the town on strategies to reduce and manage nitrogen discharges from development that have been degrading Wareham's coastal waters.

Summer 2008 Municipal Grant Funds Available

The Buzzards Bay NEP, through Energy and Environmental Affairs, has made available $135,000 in federal funds, plus an anticipated $50,000 in state funds, to assist interested Buzzards Bay watershed municipalities implement recommendations contained in the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. Go to our funding page for more information.

Buzzards Bay Coalition and DMF observe "Rusty Tide" again in Buzzards Bay

For the third summer in a row, the Buzzards Bay Coalition volunteers, and state Division of Marine fisheries biologists have been observing distinctly red or rusty colored water in the northern portions of Buzzards Bay resulting from a bloom of the Dinoflagellate algae, Cochlodinium. This year the algae bloomed three weeks earlier than the other years. Prior to 2005, blooms of this algae had not been reported in Buzzards Bay. Go to or Red Tide page to learn more.

Head of Westport Stormwater Treatment Project Moving Forward

The Buzzards Bay NEP is partnering with the Town of Westport and the Westport River Watershed Alliance (WRWA) to develop stormwater solutions for the East Branch of the Westport River. In the Spring 2007, the BBNEP awarded of the Town of Westport $15,000 in engineering support to develop costs for this site and began working with the town to develop conceptual plans and strategies. In 2008, the town settled on a conceptual strategy for its properties (the middle school and library). Click to learn more about the Head of the Westport River Stormwater Project.

Municipal Grants Announced

On March 11, 2008 Buzzards Bay NEP, through Energy and Environmental Affairs, awarded six Buzzards Bay watershed communities over $104,000 in state and federal funds to assist interested Buzzards Bay watershed municipalities implement recommendations contained in the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. Go to our funding page for more information and to read the press release.

New Barnstable County Report on Nitrogen Removal Wastewater System Performance

The Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment has issued an important report on the performance of nitrogen removal onsite systems on Cape Cod. It is titled "Performance of innovative alternative onsite septic systems for the removal of nitrogen in Barnstable County, Massachusetts 1999-2007" Go to our MASSTC web page to learn more.


June 6, 2008: DEP workshop on new MA building Code for Flood Zone

Lealdon Langley of MA DEP will present a summary of the new building code for Flood Resistant Construction. Go to our StormSmart Coasts page for more information.

GAF Engineering Inc. hired for stormwater treatment project

In partnership with the Town of Marion, and as part of our municipal grant program, the Buzzards Bay NEP hired an engineering firm to assist the town develop stormwater treatment designs in the vicinity of Old Landing on Front Street. Go to our engineering services procurement page for more information.

StormSmart Coasts Workshop on May 15, 2008

The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, in partnership with the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, and the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program is holding a StormSmart Coasts Workshop for South Coast communities. The workshop will provide technical assistance, regulatory tools, legal guidance, case studies, planning strategies, as well as an overview of an MCZM's website that created to support local efforts to improve the management of coastal floodplains in Massachusetts. Go to our StormSmart Workshop page for more information.

Attorney General Makes Legal Challenge to New Coast Guard Rules

On November 28, 2007, new shipping rules for Buzzards Bay developed by the US Coast Guard went into effect. The problem is, neither Massachusetts Legislators nor the state's Attorney General felt the rules went far enough. In 2004, Massachusetts passed an Oil Spill Act that among other things required pilot escorts for oil transporters in Buzzards Bay. The Coast Guard stated that elements of the state law exceeded state authority to control shipping, and then the US government filed suit against Massachusetts. They also said they would adopt new federal regulations to address shipping issues in Buzzards Bay.

When the new rules were issued in a public notice in August 2007, area legislators, and environmental advocacy groups like the Buzzards Bay Coalition, and local officials made it clear they felt the new shipping rules fell short of expectations, and that the federal shipping regulations should have matched the 2004 Massachusetts Oil Spill Prevention Act. For example, the new Coast Guard regulations only require pilot escorts for single hulled oil transport vessels, whereas the state law has pilotage requirements for both single and double hull vessels. On November 6, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed a bill seeking to adopt a new law requiring tug escorts and pilotage for the (read Standard Times article: New Buzzards Bay oil spill law advances. On November 28, the same day the federal rules went into place, the Massachusetts Attorney General filed a new legal challenge to the new Coast Guard rules. Go to or oil spill act page for more information.

BBNEP awards $98,000 in Grants to Five Municipalities

The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program will award over $98,000 in grants to five Buzzards Bay watershed municipalities in their efforts to protect and restore Buzzards Bay. The grants will help the municipalities test, map and treat stormwater discharges; protect and restore wetlands and habitat, and safeguard open space.

"We are pleased to award another round of grants so soon after our January grant round" said Dr. Joe Costa, director of the NEP, a planning and technical assistance unit within CZM. "Despite the challenges of rapid growth and tight budgets, Buzzards Bay communities continue to develop creative ideas to protect or restore the environment."

Grant recipients include Rochester - $25,000 for the Church Family Property Land Preservation Project, Bourne - $16,000 for the Head of the Bay Stormwater Pollution Identification project and $15,305 for the second phase of a Culvert Replacement Feasibility study for Conservation Pond along the shores of Hen Cove, New Bedford - $20,000 to continue mapping stormwater drainage networks as part of an update of the city's GIS data of stormwater and sewer systems. Marion - $22,000 for the Washburn Park Wetland Restoration and Creation project, and Mattapoisett In addition to the grants announced today, the town of Mattapoisett will receive in-kind support to map stormwater drainage systems. Go to our Grant Funding page for more information.

BBNEP assisting Westport Conservation Commission

Since June 11, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program has been assisting the Westport Conservation Commission during the vacancy of their Conservation Agent position. The BBNEP received the request from the Commission's Acting Chairperson, and BBNEP Executive Director Dr. Joe Costa detailed Wetland Specialist John Rockwell to this task. The requested assistance involves conducting site evaluations, reviewing permit applications, evaluating wetland lines, and other activities related to a Conservation Commission's permitting authority. The Buzzards Bay NEP routinely provides onsite reviews, wetland line review, and plan review services for watershed Conservation Commissions upon request. We also conduct training workshops on the implementation of the state Wetlands Protection Act and the duties and operation of Conservation Commissions.

Interactive Map of Tidal Restrictions

We will be adding interactive maps showing restoration sites, like the ones on our salt marsh restoration page.

Acushnet Town Meeting Approves BBNEP model stormwater regulation

As part of Acushnet's Phase 2 Stormwater Management Plan, they were required to review their local regulations that address stormwater discharges, and if needed, adopt new stormwater regulations. The Stormwater Committee (consisting of representatives from town departments including Planning, Conservation, the Highway Department, and the Town Administrator) decided the town's regulations needed revising, and asked the Buzzards Bay NEP to help. The Committee decided the best way to accomplish this task was to adopt a new bylaw through the Planning Board, in part because the Planning Board also has the authority to review projects outside of the Wetlands Protection Act.

On May 21, 2007, Acushnet town meeting approved the new stormwater bylaw. The new Acushnet bylaw establishes a Stormwater Review Board (SRB). Go to our Town of Acushnet page to learn more.

Wareham Fall 2007 Town Meeting Again Considers Nitrogen Management Bylaw

At the spring 2007 Wareham Town meeting, a nitrogen wastewater bylaw developed by the BBNEP at the request of the Wareham Board of Selectmen, failed by a vote of 177 to 119. The measure required a simple majority vote. In a nutshell, the bylaw would have established a nitrogen standard allowing the equivalent of 2.5 bedrooms per acre. Property owners would be guaranteed an an as of right of 3 bedrooms per acre, no matter how small the lot (assuming it was building under other laws), as long as you installed a nitrogen removal system. The bylaw exempted all sewered areas, and areas planned to be sewered under the town's wastewater facility plan. Nitrogen removal systems would have been required on existing homes in several circumstances, but only when the Board of Health was already requiring the upgrade or replacement of the existing system.

In response to the failure of the article to pass at Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen requested changes to the bylaw article that would provide more exemptions for existing homeowners in order to avoid hardships for current residents, and to change the standard to three bedrooms per acre, the same as the as-of-right. These exemptions mean that the bylaw will principally affect new development, and not existing homes. This revised warrant article comes to Wareham voters again on Tuesday October 30, 2007, the last day of Town Meeting. Go to our Model Nitrogen Bylaw for more information.

Legislation proposed to beef up NDA enforcement

State Representative Bill Straus has introduced a bill (House 880) that would provide powers to municipal harbormasters to enforce boat waste No Discharge Areas (NDAs) and to authorize fines of up to $2000 for violations. Enforcement authority for the law has been an issue for years, and there has been debate about whether local officials have such authority. There will be a hearing on the new legislation at 1 PM on Monday, October 15, 2007 at the State House in Room 1A. Buzzards Bay is the largest NDA in the Commonwealth. Go to our boat waste pumpout locations page for more information on the Buzzards Bay NDA.

The Coalition's Watershed Bike Ride

We have posted a map of the route of the The Buzzards Bay Coalition's "Watershed Ride" to be held on Sunday October 14, 2007. Go to our Public Parks and Recreational Lands page for more information.

Legislators host another Rail Extension Meeting: Oct. 24, 2007

Representative Susan Gifford, Representative Bill Straus and Senator Marc Pacheco will host their third meeting of discussions regarding the Station Locations for the Wareham to Buzzards Bay Commuter Rail Project. The meeting will be held Wednesday, October 24, 2007, 7:00 to 8:00 PM at the Wareham Town Hall Auditorium on the second floor. Go to our Commuter Rail page for more information.


New Coast Guard Rules could supersede portions of state law

On August 22, 2007, after assessment a federal appeals court decision in its favor, the state announced that it would again require tug escorts for oil transport in Buzzards Bay (read this New Bedford Standard Times South Coast Today website posted this article: AG to oil shippers: Use tugboat escorts crossing Buzzards Bay. However, on August 30, after several years of consideration, the USCG finally issued its own new navigation regulations, that also require tug escorts in Buzzards Bay, but only for single-hulled transport vessels (the state law requires escorts for both single and double hulled vessels), and only a federal pilots license is required (the state law also required a license from the state). It is not yet clear how the state will handle its ongoing federal case defending its authority to regulate shipping in Massachusetts coastal and inland waters. Read this New Bedford Standard Times South Coast Today article: New Coast Guard rule supersedes state oil spill law. Additional background information can be found on our Massachusetts Oil Spill Act page.

Wareham Town Meeting votes down Nitrogen Management Bylaw by 13 votes

At the spring 2007 Wareham Town meeting, a nitrogen wastewater bylaw developed by the BBNEP at the request of the Wareham Board of Selectmen, failed by a vote of 177 to 119. The measure required a simple majority vote. In response to the failure of the article to pass at Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen requested changes to the bylaw article that would provide more exemptions for existing homeowners in order to avoid hardships for current residents, and to change the standard to three bedrooms per acre, the same as the as-of-right defined in the Spring 2007 version of the bylaw. The added exemptions meant that the bylaw would principally affect new development, and not existing homes. In a nutshell, the bylaw would have established a nitrogen loading standard allowing the equivalent of 3.0 bedrooms per acre and property owners would be guaranteed an an as-of-right of 3 bedrooms per acre, no matter how small the lot (assuming it was building under other laws), as long as you installed a nitrogen removal system. The bylaw exempted all sewered areas, and areas planned to be sewered under the town's wastewater facility plan. Nitrogen removal systems would have been required on existing homes in two circumstances, and only when the Board of Health was already requiring the upgrade or replacement of the existing system.

This revised warrant article came before Wareham voters on Tuesday October 30, 2007, the last day of Town Meeting. This time the bylaw failed by 13 votes. Go to our Model Nitrogen Bylaw for more information about this bylaw.

Read our two year summary report on nitrogen removal performance of five alternative septic system technologies.
Report published in September 2002 Environment Cape Cod Journal. This is a preprint with most editorial changes included. (187 kb pdf file - Improved Oct. 2003 PDF version)
coastal condition report thumbnail

EPA and Congress Celebrate NEP 20th anniversary, but Nation's estuaries remain impaired.

On June 5, 2007, representatives of Congress, EPA, and national estuary programs around the country met in Washington DC to celebrate 20 years of success in the National Estuary Program (NEP). The NEP was established by the 1987 rewrite of the Clean Water Act, and has served as a model for watershed and estuary protection efforts around the country. A major focus of many of the NEPs and their partners during the past few years are their efforts to protect and restore wetlands, with more than 1 million acres protected or restored during the past 6 years. Since 2003, the NEPs have also leveraged well over 1 billion dollars to fund and implement various environmental protection and restoration efforts. Around the country, the NEPs have been strong advocates in facilitating the adoption of EPA's stormwater control program and Total Maximum Daily Load controls for nutrients and other pollutants.

Despite these positive achievements, the news is not all good. At the same meeting, EPA released its National Estuary Program National Coastal Condition Report (Go to EPA's NEP CCR page to download the report). The report was based on data collected between 1999 and 2003. The NEP estuaries were rated individually, regionally, and nationally using four primary indicators of estuarine condition: water quality, sediment quality, benthic (bottom) condition, and fish-tissue contaminant concentrations. In this report, EPA acknowledges that in NEP bays, many of the measures of habitat and water quality showed poor conditions. These conditions appear to reflect impacts from the tremendous growth in coastal development and population that these bay watersheds experienced, coupled with inadequate controls of pollution. Still, EPA stated in their press release that the NEPs were doing somewhat better than their corresponding coastal regions in response to growth pressures. They noted: "While population pressures in the NEPs were greater than those in the non-NEP estuaries from 1990-2000, the NEP estuaries showed the same estuarine conditions as, or better than, other coastal waters overall. By 2000, more than two-thirds of the coastal population lived in NEP counties, which comprise less than six percent of the coastal land area."

The report section on Buzzards Bay ranked it at the high end of "fair", although in the case of certain contaminants, like toxic contaminants in fish, the bay ranked as "poor." The report was meant be an evaluation of the entire bay by averaging the results of stations both in the central bay and in representative embayments. A weakness of this approach is that overall, conditions in central Buzzards Bay tend to be very good, but many of the bays and harbors around the bay are impacted from pollutant inputs and changes in habitat cause by development and other changes in land use. The report notes: "Buzzards Bay has avoided many estuary-wide problems that plague other watersheds around the country, but land-use practices and the growing local population have impacted natural resources in the 32 small embayments in the Buzzards Bay area."

It is for this reason that the Buzzards Bay Coalition, with financial support of our program and the Commonwealth, monitors and tracks water quality in more than 30 Buzzards Bay embayments.



Read the Buzzards Bay section of the report (a 1.8 MB pdf file).

Buzzards Bay Coalition State of the Bay Report.

Coalition's State of the Bay Report Released.

On June 15, 2007, The Buzzards Bay Coalition released a new State of the Bay Report, finding that the Bay's indexes of water quality and living resources have declined since their last report in 2003. The new score for the bay was 45, down from the 2003 score of 48. The Coalition developed the report based on data and information from agencies, scientists, and land use planners. The report uses the best available current and historical information for indicators in three main categories: pollution, watershed health, and living resources. The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program contributed to the effort by evaluating certain data sets, particularly data on shellfish bed closures, eelgrass cover, and various land use and wetland change calculations.

The report follows a national state of the bay report released a week earlier, for all estuaries in the National Estuary Program (described in the article below). The national Coastal Condition Report paints a rosier picture for Buzzards Bay, finding it at the upper end of "fair" overall, and in better condition than most estuaries in the National Estuary Program. Upon closer examination, the two reports are attempting to answer different questions with different sampling schemes. For the national monitoring program, sampling stations were randomly selected throughout Buzzards Bay to represent the entire geographic extent of the estuary, with relatively few stations located inside the bays and harbors along the edges of Buzzards Bay. From this perspective, it is certainly true that average Buzzards Bay water quality as a whole is in far better condition than other estuaries like Narragansett Bay, San Francisco Bay, Delaware Bay, and the other estuaries it out-scored. The national monitoring program was established to help EPA report to Congress and others as to whether our nation's estuaries were getting better or worse, and how the National Estuaries compared to each other with respect to the problems they faced.

In contrast to EPA's monitoring program, the Buzzards Bay Coalition's State of the Bay assessment focuses on water quality and living resources in the nearshore areas. From a local perspective, this makes lots of sense because it is these nearshore areas that are most impacted by human activity, and it is these nearshore areas that are also most utilized and enjoyed by residents, whether they are swimming, fishing, or beach walking. For example, the shellfish index is based upon the portion of Buzzards Bay nearshore areas closed to shellfishing. Certainly shellfish exist in central Buzzards Bay, and some shellfisherman work these deep waters with special equipment, but for the most part, most Buzzards Bay commercial and recreational shellfisherman work in bays and shallow waters nearshore affected by pollution.

From a scientific perspective, these nearshore areas also tend to have some of the most important and diverse habitats that sustain or act as nurseries for numerous species. These coastal areas and the embayments around Buzzards Bay each have a story to tell of impacts to water quality and living resources, affected principally by activities in surrounding watersheds of each embayment. Each of these embayment will need a custom management strategy to solve their problems, and the success or failure of these local efforts will be documented by water quality and living resource monitoring programs like these.

Buzzards Bay NEP seeks new NRCS technical assistance agreement

The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program intends to enter into an agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide technical assistance to municipalities in the Buzzards Bay watershed on a variety of environmental protection and restoration activities on issues relating to stormwater management, erosion and sediment reduction, and wildlife/wetland habitat improvements. We last entered into such an agreement in 2005. Read the new procurement notice.

Help Wanted: Please review our new management plan for Buzzards Bay

We are updating our Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for Buzzards Bay, and we need your help. Our landmark management plan was written in 1991, and needs to be updated. This original plan was a great success. More than 60% of the recommendations were achieved, and substantial progress was made on many others. The adoption of the CCMP in 1992 led to many new initiatives, especially at the state and local level of government. Nonetheless it is clear that this management plan must be updated. Not only have new issues arisen in the environmental protection landscape, but new laws, regulations, and agency programs have been established that make the need for this update clear.

We are now developing a new management plan that will include new goals, objectives, and recommendations to meet the environmental needs of Buzzards Bay and its surrounding watershed into the next decade and beyond. This new document will also meet the requirements for an EEA-approved Watershed Action Plan, which will enable new funding opportunities through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The update of a National Estuary Program CCMP and a state Watershed Action Plan is an excellent opportunity for municipalities, environmental groups, business and industry, and residents to identify problems and advance certain actions to better protect and restore water quality and living resources throughout the watershed. Developing a new management plan is also an opportunity to raise the bar and increase awareness of all our combined efforts to achieve these goals.

The updated CCMP will contain more town and agency specific recommendations than the original plan. While the CCMP is not a regulatory document, the contents of the updated plan will also help direct state and federal grants, technical assistances and policies that will affect watershed communities for years to come.

To make your feedback on the plan easier, we have created feedback pages for each Action Plan in the document. You can comment and rate as many or as few recommendations as you like. Go to our New CCMP page to learn more, and to submit your comments and suggestions.

April 2007 oil spill cleanup status report posted

We have posted the "Immediate Response Action Plan Status and Completion Report" for the Bouchard Oil spill dated April 2007. It is posted on our Buzzards Bay Oil Spill Cleanup Status page.

BB NEP recommends "Nitrogen Neutrality" for ADM mixed use development on the Agawam River

While the Buzzards Bay NEP supports the use of smart growth techniques, including the clustering of development, open space set asides, and transfer of development right strategies to mitigate environmental impacts from this development, the density bonus being provided through the Plymouth TDR bylaw is so great that, that nitrogen loading from this 1,320 acre project will be more than twice the expected nitrogen inputs from the default conventional 2.75-acre zoning for this parcel (and more than triple the loadings for the lands within the Agawam River subbasin).

We believe that no matter how well a project meets the goals of "Smart Growth", at a minimum, it is important that new development does not exceed the expected nitrogen loading rates of the underlying zoning, especially in the watersheds of impaired estuaries. Go to our Town of Plymouth Information page to read our comment letter to MEPA on this project to understand why this issue is important.

April 2007 Nor'easter Coastal Erosion Report for Falmouth, MA

A brief summary of observations and photos from the morning of April 16, 2007 showing the coastal impacts from the Nor'easter storm. Go to the April 2007 Nor'easter page.

BBNEP nitrogen wastewater bylaw fails at Wareham Town meeting, 177 to 119

At the Town of Wareham's Spring Town Meeting (April 30, 2007; an open town meeting), at the request of the Board of Selectmen, BBNEP Executive Director Dr. Joe Costa presented a Wastewater Nitrogen Management Bylaw that the Buzzards Bay NEP had drafted for the Planning Board, but which had been placed on the warrant by the Board of Selectmen.

In a nutshell, the bylaw would have established a nitrogen loading limit of so many pounds per acre, and effectively translating that limit to 2.5 bedrooms per acre. The pounds per acre limit would also greatly encourage community wastewater facilities for new large developments. The bylaw is flexible enough to encourage innovative solutions, and compliment other bylaws being considered, like transfer of development rights (TDRs) and open space protection nitrogen credits. If a single-lot property owner could not make the standard, they would need to install a nitrogen removal system for new construction, replacement of failed systems, or when adding bedrooms on small lots. Property owners would be guaranteed an as of right of 3 bedrooms per acre, no matter how small the lot (assuming it was building under other laws), as long as you installed a nitrogen removal system. The bylaw exempted all sewered areas, and areas planned to be sewered under the town's wastewater facility plan.

This was a General Bylaw, and only required a simple majority to pass. By a vote of 177 to 119, the article failed.

The debate was spirited, and most of the concerns related to the cost of the systems or annual operation costs. Some town meeting members were concerned about other nitrogen sources ignored by the bylaw, like fertilizer use on lawns, golf courses, and agricultural lands. Some town meeting members asked that this bylaw be further reviewed and refined, and brought to a subsequent town meeting.

Although the bylaw article was defeated, the BBNEP helped increase awareness of nitrogen pollution in the town, and both town officials and residents seemed receptive to finding a solution to the problem. This increased awareness will also help generate interest in the Massachusetts Estuaries Project findings for the Wareham River Estuary due later this year.

Read the new draft model bylaw, and tell us what you think.

Old Buzzards Bay Gray Literature Reports Online

We have added dozens of old and hard to find gray literature reports from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s to our Buzzards Bay reports and reference page. The reports include PCB pollution reports for New Bedford, old lobster fishery statistics reports, and reports funded by the BBNEP during the 1980s. While many reports contain outdated information, they also contain useful and valuable data and statistics and hard to find historical information.

Buzzards Bay NEP Restoration Projects funded by Bouchard No. 120 fines in NAWCA grant program

Since 2004, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program has partnered with The Buzzards Bay Coalition and other environmental groups, to develop proposals to be funded by the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA). Seven million dollars had been set aside in the program for Buzzards Bay initiatives from fines collected from the Bouchard Transport Company because of Clean Water Act violations associated with their spill of 98,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil spilled in Buzzards Bay on April 27, 2003. This year, the final funds were awarded, including land acquisition projects developed by the Coalition and their land trust partners, and restoration projects developed by the Buzzards Bay NEP in partnership with Ducks Unlimited. Go to our NAWCA page to see a map of where these projects are located, and learn more about the projects.

We have updated or 1996 Local Model Unified Stormwater Regulations

In the last 10 years, much progress has been made on how to regulate and manage stormwater discharges. New concepts and strategies have arisen to promote "Low Impact Development," especially strategies to minimize the discharge of untreated stormwater to surface water and wetlands. In 2003, the US Environmental Protection Agency issued to all towns in the Buzzards Bay watershed a stormwater permit for their collective municipal stormwater discharge networks. These permits require that town boards coordinate and adopt consistent regulations to treat stormwater and to meet the goals and objectives of the stormwater permit. Because of these changes, and because we have seen more clearly which regulatory standards work, and which do not work well, we have updated our 1996 model local unified stormwater regulations. Go to our Stormwater Regulations page to learn more.

Codium seaweed population explosion off Little Harbor Beach, Wareham, MA: Is it related to the collapse of eelgrass populations in northern Buzzards Bay?

This past December we observed a large accumulation of Green Fleece seaweed washed ashore at Little Harbor Beach in Wareham. Since the winter, the problem has only gotten worse and has become more than a nuisance for town officials and residents. The algae, also called Dead Man's Fingers, goes by the scientific name Codium fragile. The explosion of this seaweed population follows more than a decade long collapse of eelgrass populations offshore in the shallows of Great Neck. Are the two problems related? Click to read more of the story.

EPA Produces 2007 Earth Day Fact sheet on Buzzards Bay

To help in the celebrations of Earth Day 2007 (April 22), the US EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds prepared fact sheets about each of the 28 National Estuary Programs, including Buzzards Bay. The goal of sending out the fact sheets was to highlight some of the benefits of the annual Congressional appropriation for the National Estuary Program, particularly funds leveraged by the federal dollars, and environmental results achieved by the program. The fact sheets highlight both individual program recent successes, and the collective success of the NEP. We applaud the Coastal Management Branches effort to produce this fact sheet series (Read the EPA's 2007 BBNEP fact sheet -2 MB pdf file).

Buzzards Bay NEP awards $112,000 in funding and support

On January 18, 2007 the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program (NEP) announced it would award $112,000 in grants and support to nine municipalities for their efforts to protect and restore Buzzards Bay. The grants will help these communities map stormwater discharges, treat stormwater discharges that are closing shellfish beds, protect and restore wetlands and habitat, and update computer database maps of town parcel boundaries to help local officials manage permits and track natural resources. Go to our Funding Page for more information.

2007 Buzzards Bay Municipal Grants Available

The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program has allocated $123,000 of federal grants, to assist interested Buzzards Bay watershed municipalities implement recommendations contained in the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. This funding is being made available to assist eligible Buzzards Bay watershed municipalities in the protection of open space, rare and endangered species habitat, and freshwater and saltwater wetlands; to help restore tidally restricted salt marshes, to develop designs and remediate stormwater discharges threatening water quality, to provide support for mapping stormwater drainage networks, to construct pump-out facilities, to update town parcel data, to digitize wetland boundaries approved in permits, to assist in the monitoring of water quality to prioritize stormwater remediation, to address problems in migratory fish passage, and to implement other recommendations contained in the watershed management plan for Buzzards Bay.

Carver, MA wetland case sent back to First District court in light of Rapanos case

In Massachusetts, federal, state, and municipal laws protect wetlands. Violation of these laws and supporting regulations could theoretically be enforced simultaneously in these jurisdictions, but generally local and state regulators defer to and coordinate with federal agencies like the US EPA and Army Corps in cases involving very large wetland violations. However, in recent years there have been Supreme Court rulings that have been narrowing the definition of jurisdictional wetlands under the federal Clean Water Act. On October 31, 2006, because of a June 2006 Supreme Court decision, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent back to the U.S. District Judge a case involving a Carver, MA cranberry grower that filled in 50 acres of wetlands. Go to our Wetland Loss Page to learn more about wetland losses in the Buzzards bay watershed, and efforts by municipal and state government to limit those losses.

You saw what? A manatee in Buzzards Bay

In late summer, or after storms, we often hear reports of oceanic or tropical animals not often found in Buzzards Bay. On August 16, 2006 we received a call that a large ocean sunfish (Mola mola) had drifted into Buttermilk Bay and was mistaken for a shark. We also heard that a pod of dolphins were observed in the Cape Cod Canal that same day. Most remarkable, however, was the Falmouth Enterprise report that a West Indian manatee (sea cow) was sighted by several sources in Quissett Harbor in Falmouth, Massachusetts on August 17, 2006. To read the rest of the story, Click here.

Federal judge rules Commonwealth of Massachusetts' oil spill act legislation unconstitutional.

United States District Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled that the 2004 Massachusetts legislation that established oil tanker and tank barge requirements for vessel pilotage, vessel design (e.g. double hull discussions), drug and alcohol testing, tugboat escort, mandatory vessel routing, and the Act's "certificate of financial assurance" were declared preempted, invalid and unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution. The provisions were challenged by the American Waterways Operators and other groups, and joined in a motion for judgment by the Justice Department because of concerns raised by the US Coast Guard. The decision also permanently enjoined the Commonwealth from enforcing the challenged statutes (read the judges decision). However, on September 7, 2006, both the Buzzards Bay Coalition and the Massachusetts Attorney General, in separate appeals, filed suit in federal court to overturn the decision. Read this Standard Time article for more information.

Read the 1938 Standard Times Hurricane Souvenir Newspaper

Hurricane of 1938 souvenir newspaper
A couple of weeks after the Hurricane of 1938, the New Bedford Standard Times published a "souvenir issue" about the death and destruction caused by this storm. We have come across a copy of this paper, and scanned it as a pdf file for you to read and view some great photographs covering the bay from Westport to Falmouth. Go to our Hurricane and Storm page to read this first hand account about the storm.

Report on the Coastal and Marine Economies in Massachusetts

According to a September 2006 study released by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs' Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), the coastal economy in Massachusetts generates nearly 37 percent of employment in the state, with payroll totals of more than $60 billion, and the annual gross regional product of the coastal economy was approximately $117 billion, the equivalent of 37 percent of the entire Massachusetts Gross State Product (GSP) in 2004. Follow this link to lean more about the report titled An Assessment of the Coastal and Marine Economies in Massachusetts.

good job   about average   needs work   Tracking Town Performance
We have begun tracking more closely what measures towns have adopted that help implement the goals in the Buzzards Bay watershed plan. We have posted a new page titled Tracking Town Actions: Commonwealth Capital Policies to see what steps the towns are taking to improve their Commonwealth Capital Score in ways that also help advance goals and objectives contained in the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. Click the link above to see what the Commonwealth Capital score means to your community, and how they are doing.

Can town boards advocate for the passage of town meeting warrant articles and municipal ballot questions?
Click the link above to see the advisory opinions and interpretive bulletins issued by the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

BB NEP encourages Falmouth to restore tidally restricted salt marshes under planned bike path.
The Buzzards Bay NEP originally suggested that the town undertake the restoration during bike path construction, but after meeting with town officials and regulators, it was decided a better strategy might be to undertake the projects separately. Click to learn more.

Celebrating 20 years of Science and Management in Buzzards Bay
In 2005 we celebrated our 20th Anniversary. But we are not just looking back on our accomplishments; we are looking forward to future. In the process we decided that it is time to update the Buzzards Bay management plan. Click the link to learn more.

The Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning closures of Buzzards Bay, and the new Cochlodinium bloom.
The closure of parts of Buzzards Bay and large parts of Massachusetts because of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning was big news this spring and summer. In September, a new species of dinoflagellate caused parts of the bay to turn red. Click to read more and find out where toxic red tide closures in Massachusetts linger, and about the recent Cochlodinium bloom in Buzzards Bay.

The Buzzards Bay NEP's Selected Inventory of Potential Wetland Restoration Sites in the Buzzards Bay Watershed. Phase II: Northern Area is now available online. The report and CD were mailed to Buzzards Bay municipalities in the Spring of 2005. You can also Email us and request a free copy of the Wetland Restoration Sites Atlas on CD. Click the above link to download the main body of the report and other sections.

A wet warm summer does not bode well for Buzzards Bay

The combination of a wet and warm summer in 2006 could result in increased closure of swimming beaches and shellfish beds, expand the distribution of red tide and other nuisance species, promote algal blooms, and cause fish kills in Buzzards Bay and on Cape Cod.

The dramatic increase in new development close to shore during the past few decades has been accompanied by an ever greater number of septic systems, increased stormwater discharges, and a general increase in pollutant loads to coastal waters. Rains wash fecal matter and bacteria, nutrients, and organic matter in to the water. Nutrients (particularly nitrogen) increase the amount of algae growing on the bottom, on surfaces, and floating in the water (such as phytoplankton). Although algae produce oxygen in daylight, at night and during heavy overcast periods, they use more oxygen than they produce. The result can be exceptionally low oxygen concentrations that kill fish, crustaceans, and many shellfish. The organically enriched and turbid coastal waters also help prolong the survival of fecal bacterial in the water.

Exceptional heavy rains, like the June 2006 six to ten inch area rainfall, closed all of Buzzards Bay to shellfishing for 7 to 10 days. Last year, heavy spring rains were believed to be an important contributing factor to the expansion of red tide in Massachusetts.

On their July 4, 2006 edition, the Falmouth Enterprise reported a fish kill in in Eel River on the Vineyard Sound side of town. Buzzards Bay Coalition water quality monitoring coordinator Tony Williams has informed us that a volunteer observed dead crabs and clams in Megansett Harbor near Squeteaque Harbor during the same period. Several other volunteers observed unusually low oxygen concentrations at their monitoring sites that week.

If you observe dead fish or shellfish this summer, please call Tracy at 508.291.3625x10 so that we can better document these events.



Rochester CPA brochure prepared by the BBNEP
The Buzzards Bay NEP produced a Community Preservation Act brochure at the request of the Rochester Conservation Commission. The brochure helped town meeting members identify the costs and potential benefits of adopting the CPA in the Town of Rochester. On Monday June 5, 2006 town meeting members approved putting the CPA on the fall town ballot. Click the link above to see the brochure and learn more.


The Coastal Hazards Commission is holding a series of public forums around the coast of Massachusetts to solicit input on local concerns about storm damage and coastal erosion issues on the coast, and to help identify potential solutions. The public meeting for Buzzards Bay communities is being chaired by Representative Susan Gifford and will be held on 7-9 PM on May 31 at the Wareham Public Library (59 Marion Rd). Go to the Massachusetts CZM Coastal Hazards Commission website for more information.

Please help the Coastal Hazards Commission by answering the five questions on this questionnaire.

Buzzards Bay Program hires Horsley Witten Group for Management Plan update
The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program has hired the Horsley Witten Group, Inc to help the program in its effort to update the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan and develop a 5-year watershed Action Plan for the Buzzards Bay watershed. Click the link above to learn more.

Elizabeth Leidhold
BBAC Announces New Director The Buzzards Bay Action Committee announced it has hired a new Executive Director, Elizabeth Leidhold of Mattapoisett. Ms. Leidhold replaces outgoing Director Len Gonsalves who had been with the organization for 8 years.

Ms. Leidhold is widely versed in environmental and water quality issues surrounding Buzzards Bay and has been an environmental consultant in the southeastern Massachusetts area since 1987, and a Conservation Agent for the past 10 years. Ms. Leidhold served as Conservation Officer in the town of Dartmouth and Conservation Agent in the town of Mattapoisett during the Buzzards Bay oil spill, and has been a board member of the Mattapoisett Land Trust since 2000. Along with the BBAC position, she is currently serving as part-time conservation agent in the town of Lakeville, and has been the Director of the Marion Natural History Museum for the past 16 years. She will continue in these positions while she serves as Executive Director for the BBAC, which is also a part-time position. "I look forward to working with the municipalities that abut Buzzards Bay" says Ms. Leidhold, "This is a great opportunity to explore impacts on a regional scale and I look forward to my new responsibilities".

Susan Snow-Cotter presents certificate of appreciation to Len Gonsalves
Feb. 2006 Announcement: Buzzards Bay NEP awards $75,000 in grants and support to twelve Buzzards Bay towns
The Buzzards Bay Nep announced that will award $75,000 in through its municipal minigrants program in their efforts to implement recommendations contained in the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (read the press release-pdf file). Susan Snow-Cotter, Director of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management presented the awards at Acushnet Town Hall. They included: Besides the grant awards, Snow-Cotter presented a certificate of appreciation to outgoing Buzzards Bay Action Committee Executive Director Leonard Gonsalves. Mr. Gonsalves, a retired high school teacher, and former Town of Dartmouth Selectman, came out of retirement to help run the operations of the BBAC for the past 9 years. Snow-Cotter said "Mr. Gonsalves' contributions proved more than part time. We can thank Len for some important initiatives like the establishment of the free boat bilge sock program in Buzzards Bay, supporting oil spill training for town officials and updating an oil spill response manual for Buzzards Bay which was helpful during the 2003 oil spill, and for establishing the stormwater mapping collaborative program with the Voc-Tech high school that has proved so helpful to Buzzards Bay communities."

Vendor Sought to Assist with Management Plan Update
The Buzzards Bay NEP is seeking a firm with experience in the development of watershed management strategies to assist us in the rewrite of the Buzzards Bay CCMP. The link above goes to the www.Comm-Pass.com website. At the site, click on "search for solicitations" and search for Buzzards Bay. All the necessary documents are available there. The RFR is also posted on our NewCCMP webpage. [Note this solicitation is now closed.]

BBAC Director Stepping Down
Leonard Gonsalves, Executive Director of the Buzzards Bay Action Committee announced he will be stepping down. The retired teacher and former Town of Dartmouth Selectman had been the Executive Director of the organization since 1997. Some of his major accomplishments at the BBAC included creating the free boat bilge sock program in Buzzards Bay and establishing the Voc Tech-BBAC-BB NEP stormwater mapping collaborative to help map stormwater drainage networks in Buzzards Bay. Len will be working with the BBAC to fill his position. The BBAC Executive Director job description is posted on our jobs page. He plans to enjoy his retirement and follow other pursuits.

The comment period for the new proposed Buzzards Bay Disposal Site for dredged materials closed February 24, 2006. Click the link for more information.

Do you know what your Conservation Commission does? The Town of Carver Conservation Commission liked the wetlands brochure we produced for the Town of Falmouth so much, they asked us to produce one for their board. Go to our Town of Carver webpage to view the Carver brochure.

Are you on a town board and want us to produce a free flyer or brochure to educate residents about a particular bylaw or set of regulations in your community? Just email us with your request.

Web Slideshow: Flora and Fauna of Carver, MA
Featuring photographs by Carver resident Robert Conway.

Aerial Photos of Falmouth Wetlands Filling Violation at Penzance Point Road in Woods Hole

We've Changed Our Name
You may not have noticed, but we dropped the word "Project" from our name. For the past decade, we used as our official name the "Buzzards Bay Project National Estuary Program." We actually started out simply as the "Buzzards Bay Project" (or BBP) in 1985, but later, the public began confusing us with the citizens group The Buzzards Bay Coalition (often incorrectly called the "Buzzards Bay Coalition"). We began always adding the "NEP" part of our name to help distinguish us.

We were also often confused with our sister NEP, the Massachusetts Bays Program, and more recently, the Department of Environmental Protection created the "Massachusetts Estuaries Project" for their nitrogen management initiative. Having both "project" and "program" in our name was just too confusing, so we decided to drop the word Project. We hope our "new" name will be a little easier to remember, and less of a tongue twister. Go to our NEP Information page to learn more about the national program to which we belong.

Three projects to be funded with Bouchard No. 120 fines.

MA CZM selects 5 more priority coastal wetland restoration sites in Buzzards Bay..
These designated priority projects are eligible to receive both internal program assistance and contracted technical services funded by WRP. These services may include, but are not limited to: wetland delineation, survey and mapping, site planning, hydraulic analyses, project design, impact assessments, permitting, and monitoring. Click the link to learn more.

BB NEP hires Natural Resources Planner
The Buzzards Bay NEP has hired Sarah Raposa in the position Natural Resources Planner. Ms. Raposa is a 1997 graduate of St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, where she majored in geology. Last year she enrolled in a GIS Certificate Program at Cape Cod Community College. Through that program she worked on an internship with Town of Falmouth GIS Department she mapped trails and properties with a global positioning system and prepared maps of these areas for the town.

At the Buzzards Bay NEP, Ms. Raposa will work with municipalities and state agencies to prepare maps and collect geographic information about natural resources in the Buzzards Bay watershed. Ms. Raposa is currently working on a project with the Buzzards Bay Action Committee (a municipal official organization), and the New Bedford Voc-Tech High School Geodesy Department, to map stormdrains and catch basins in the Buzzards Bay watershed. In the program, Ms. Raposa will work with and oversee high school students in collecting GIS data of catch basin and stormwater discharge pipe locations. Ms. Raposa is assembling this information and preparing maps for area towns. To support the effort, the Buzzards Bay NEP is providing GPS units and laptops to participating area municipalities to help public works departments and other boards use this information. [View BB NEP staff.]

Brochures on the Falmouth Wetland Regulations
Do you know what your Conservation Commission does? The Falmouth ConCom wanted to better communicate their mission to the public, and wanted builders to better understand their stormwater regulations. At their request, the Buzzards Bay NEP prepared two fact sheets to educate the public and developers about their wetlands bylaw and wetlands stormwater regulations. Click the link below to read the brochures. The Buzzards Bay NEP will offer other towns in the watershed similar brochures to meet their needs.


The Buzzards Bay NEP's Atlas of Stormwater Discharges in the Buzzards Bay Watershedis available on CD.

The 100+ page report includes maps of more than 2,600 stormwater discharges and more than 12,000 catch basins along the shores of nearly all of Buzzards Bay. (The City of New Bedford and the Elizabeth Island chain of Gosnold were not included in the study.) A hard copy of the report has been mailed to Buzzards Bay municipal boards of Selectmen, Departments of Public Works, Boards of Health, and Conservation Commissions. Email us and request a free copy of the Stormwater Atlas on CD. Click the above link to download the main body of the report and other sections.

October 2003 update of Wareham Planning Board Nitrogen Brochure
This update includes changes requested by the Planning Board to meet its current needs. This is a 300 kb pdf file that prints on legal size paper. Graphics are somewhat reduced in quality to reduce file size.

BBPNEP job opening: Natural Resource Planner.
Click the link for more info. Application deadline for the position was August 12, 2005.

USCG Commander Mary Landry Receives Commendation for services, including work on Buzzards Bay spill.
MSO Providence Command rotated to Captain Roy Nash.

Massachusetts DEP puts us out of the oil spill grant business.
For more than a decade before the April 2003 Bouchard 120 spill, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program provided nearly $80,000 in grants to Buzzards Bay municipalities to buy oil spill containment boom and other equipment and pay for emergency response training. The goal of this effort was to help municipalities be more effective first responders in both local spills, and to help minimize impacts of larger spills in the bay. This investment of time and money paid off big dividends during the Bouchard spill.

However, these municipal grants from the Buzzards Bay NEP are no longer necessary because the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to fund municipal oil spill training and equipment purchases with the new state oil spill fund. DEP has also agreed to cover existing Buzzards Bay NEP commitments, saving $22,000 in our municipal grant program. Click to read more.

BBP enters into an agreement with USDA/NRCS for environmental services.

The Buzzards Bay Action Committee has received a Coastal Zone Management Non-Point Source Pollution Grant in the amount of $18,951 for its application titled Stormwater Mapping Co-operative Program with Buzzards Bay Municipalities. The Buzzards Bay NEP is a partner on this grant. Click to read more about the Stormwater Mapping Collaborative initiative.


Buzzards Bay NEP awards $59,359 grant to Town of Mattapoisett for Eel Pond Mattapoisett engineering designs for dredging, improved flushing.

oil spill modeled circulation video thumbnail
Oil Spill Model Simulation Video (4 MB avi file)
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Watch this movie of a computer simulation of the transport of oil around Buzzards Bay in the days after the April 27, 2003 accident. While the model predicts too much oil around New Bedford, and too little oil around Marion, it gives the viewer a good sense of how winds and currents created widely spread oil landings around Buzzards Bay. GeoInsight showed this movie at their June 2, 205 public meeting. [If the movie defaults to a small size, right click on the move, and play full screen.] Go to our oil spill cleanup status page for the rest of their presentation.

Town of Marion Planning Board fails to hold hearing on model watersheet zoning bylaw regulating docks and piers to bring the proposed bylaw to bring to town meeting. Click to learn more.

Buzzards Bay towns: Request a Low Impact Development presentation
As part of our effort to provide technical support to Buzzards Bay municipal officials, on January 21, the Buzzards Bay NEP, made a presentation on Low Impact Development to area planners, planning board members, and other interested municipal officials. Click on the link to learn more about LID.

DEP appeals Falmouth Conservation Commission Decision on BBP's RDA.
Only occasionally does the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program file a Request for Determination of Applicability for a project under the Massachusetts Wetland Protection Act. The Buzzards Bay NEP discovered that the Falmouth Department of Public Works failed to obtain a wetlands permit for a major road project in Falmouth that caused damage to a wetlands. Click the link above to find out why this prompted action by the Buzzards Bay NEP.

City of New Bedford Receives Environmental Award
The city of New Bedford received an Excellence in Local Government Award through NOAA's Excellence Awards Program. This award recognizes the city, under the leadership of Mayor Frederick M. Kalisz, Jr., for the progress it has made in redeveloping brownfields. Click the link to read more.

Alert: Municipal Phase II annual stormwater management reports are due May 1, 2005

February 2005 Buildout Report for the Town of Marion prepared by BBPNEP Regional Planner, John Rockwell (91 kb pdf)
This report was prepared at the request of the Marion Board of Selectmen. The report includes links to maps and additional sites of information.

In November 2004, a federal judge finalized the $10 million guilty plea criminal settlement agreement between the Bouchard Transportation Company and the federal government. Of the $10 million, $7 million would go to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) fund, $2 million would go to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (for the cleanup of spills where the responsible party is unknown), and $1 million will be suspended while the company completes a three-year probation requiring certain actions. Go to or Settlement Information and NAWCA Information pages for what this decision means for Buzzards Bay.

Buzzards Bay NEP Awards $110,500 in municipal minigrants.

EEA Secretary Ellen Roy Herzfelder announces grants to Buzzards Bay municipalities.
BBP to receive $30,000 over two years to support our stormwater technical assistance program.

Information about Coastsweep and Estuaries Day, including information for students and teachers.

Spring 2004 Mini-grants application period is now closed.
The Buzzards Bay NEP received 14 applications totaling $271,000 for the $125,000 available. Eight towns in the watershed applied for the funds. Decisions will be made in July.

Municipalities must submit their annual update of their Municipal Phase II Stormwater Plan activities.

Please Visit our Eelgrass Habitat page.
Almost everything you wanted to know about eelgrass in Buzzards Bay.

Coalition State of the Bay Conference information

On November 22nd, the Buzzards Bay Coalition hosted a 2003 State of Buzzards Bay Conference in New Bedford. The event included 20 speakers covering a wide range of environmental issues facing Buzzards Bay. Buzzards Bay NEP staff assisted the Coalition with maps and the development of technical information that was presented. The link above opens the Coalition's meeting agenda in a new window. You can also read their press release and download the report (click here).

Proposed wind farm for Buzzards Bay is shelved.

The Buzzards Bay NEP's 2000 Report on Bilge Socks
(This is a 435K PDF file and requires Acrobat Reader[TM])


RoboCow
RoboCow: Canada's Department of Agriculture's solution to agricultural non-point source pollution

An entertaining (but educational) flash animation about agricultural pollution. Takes a few minutes to download on dial-up connections.

We have added a Seafood Safety page that explains what action limits the federal government or Massachusetts have adopted or proposed for contaminants in seafood. Click on the link to learn more.

General Permit Issued: Phase II help for municipalities
EPA Region I issued its Phase II MS4 permit on May 1, 2003. Municipalities must now submit their NOI by July 30, 2003. Click the link above for essential information you need to know.

Inventory of tidally restricted salt marshes: June 2002
The Buzzards Bay NEP mapped tidally restricted salt marshes and coastal wetlands around Buzzards Bay. The final report was issued June 2002. Click on the link to learn more.

A brochure on land use options to manage nitrogen inputs to coastal waters for property owners and town officials.
This is a 216 KB reduced resolution version for the web as a PDF file. If you want the 1 MB version, so you can print and hand out a high-resolution double-sided copy, just send us an email.
July 2003 Announcement: Buzzards Bay NEP awards $37,500 in new round of municipal grants for wetland and open space protection and restoration.
Click on the link for more information.

Hurricane Links and Coastal Erosion Issues


A brochure on land use options to manage nitrogen inputs to coastal waters for property owners and town officials.
This is a 216 KB reduced resolution version for the web as a PDF file. If you want the 1 MB version, so you can print and hand out a high-resolution double-sided copy, just send us an email.
Buzzards Bay NEP funds forth year of beach testing and stormwater analysis

New Beach Testing Requirements promulgated in Massachusetts in 2001
Will all towns comply in 2002?

March 2002 pamphlet on herring run restoration at Adamsville Pond by town of Westport (300 kb PDF file)

March 21, 2002: A team of EPA officials from Washington and Boston meet with
BBP Executive Director Dr. Joe Costa on environmental protection efforts in the Buzzards bay watershed.
Left to Right: Marilyn Katz, Betsy Salter, Joe Costa, Bruce Rosinoff, and Mel Cote.
EPA Review Team photo
November 2001: New Municipal Oil Response Plan for Buzzards Bay
The Coast Guard is responsible for overseeing the cleanup of oil spills in coastal waters, but the municipalities of Buzzards Bay have put in place a plan of first response until the Coast Guard can arrive on scene. Click on the link above to see their protocols.

Newspaper article on settlement of Westport lawsuit regarding dairy farm manure.
After years of meetings, controversy, and conflicts between town officials, shellfishermen, dairy farmers, and citizen's groups, and the first ever EPA New England CAFO permit, a landmark case involving one farmer is settled. Click here to go to the Standard Times newspaper article from 3/27/01.

Briefing on the Hix Bridge Tidal Restriction: Should debris under the bridge be dredged?
An October 2000 report, a 1.4 MB PDF file (graphic resolution reduced).

Septic System article in MCZM September 2001 "Coastlines" newsletter
An article on the release of the Septic System Test Center fact sheets by Buzzards Bay NEP Executive Director, Joe Costa.

August 2001: Buzzards Bay NEP awards minigrants to Town of Falmouth
The grants, for herring run restoration and stormwater remediation, is the first round of soon to be announced grants to other municipalities.

August 2000 New Bedford Standard Times Article: At request of BBAC, EPA and State designate Buzzards Bay as a boat "No Discharge Area"

Nitrogen BBP recommends new nitrogen loading limits for Buzzards Bay embayments!

3/16/2000: BBP awards $20,000 in wetland protection grants.

4/14/2000: The Buzzards Bay NEP awards $96,000 in stormwater grants to 6 towns

4/13/2000: The Buzzards Bay Action Committee and towns to provide free bilge socks to boaters

Standard Times article: BBP helps Wildlands Trust gain 13 acres

3/16/2000: Buzzards Bay Action Committee Requests a Buzzards Bay Boat Sewage No Discharge Area.
(Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management and the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs have endorsed the request and submitted it to the US EPA.)

The Buzzards Bay boat sewage No Discharge Area application.
(prepared by the Buzzards Bay NEP at the request of the Buzzards Bay Action Committee.)

February wetland grant solicitation to the towns

BBP provides $96K in stormwater treatment grants to towns. April 4, 2000 deadline

Standard Times article: BBP helps Wildlands Trust gain 13 acres

Related Press release: BBP announces it has funds available for land conservation

BBP pays for SepTrack upgrade and solve Y2K problem.


Shellfish bed closures in Buzzards Bay have been declining. This is the first story explaining why.


Project receives two grants with Town of Fairhaven to restore Winsegansett Salt Marsh.


BBP has released a draft Atlas of Tidally Restricted Salt Marshes in Buzzards Bay.


BBP sets aside $20,000 to assist towns in beach monitoring, finding shellfish bed pollution sources.


The Buzzards Bay NEP will assist Coalition in "Bay Lands Center" Initiative.

Buzzards Bay municipal officials train for oil spills


Project awards $30,000 to Town of Falmouth for Community Wastewater System designs at New Silver Beach.


Project updates Town of Falmouth Wetland Regulations at ConCom's request.

BBP funds municipal oil spill training.

Steve Tilley, Work Plan Team Leader of the PSWQAT visits the BBPDecember 14, 1998: Steve Tilley, Work Plan Team Leader of the PSWQAT visits the BBP.