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Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program

1990s Notice for Free Water Sample Analysis for Buzzards Bay Municipalities

Stormwater - Beach Testing and other Public Health Info


The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program is providing $15,000 to assist area Boards of Health, DPWs and Natural Resource Departments perform additional testing of water quality at freshwater and coastal bathing beaches, to help municipalities identify and monitor stormwater discharges, and identify upstream sources of pollution contributing to shellfish bed closures or threaten public drinking water supplies. This is the fourth year the Project has provided this free water analysis testing.

Boards of Health often have severe budget constraints, and the Buzzards Bay NEP has found that these funds have helped communities meet unexpected sampling costs, or conduct testing in support of grant applications to correct pollution sources. To accomplish these goals, the Buzzards Bay NEP has set up accounts with the New Bedford Health Department Laboratory, and the Barnstable County Department for Health and the Environment laboratory to test water samples collected by both town officials, and in some instances, trained volunteers. The service will be provided free to the towns

Last year, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts adopted new beach testing requirements. Now beaches must be tested weekly using a new bacterial indicator for marine water. The new indicator is the abundance of the Enterococcus bacteria. After heavy rains fecal bacteria are washed from various sources on the land into ponds, rivers and coastal waters. Poorly flushed bays, or areas near pipes, penned livestock areas, streams, and draining salt marshes are most likely to have high bacterial counts after heavy rains. Exposure to pathogens can be greatly minimized if bathing in these areas are avoided for at least 24 hours after the heavy rain."

Most of Buzzards Bay beaches have very good water quality and are well flushed with clean offshore waters, and are safe to swim. The standard for safe consumption of shellfish is much more stringent, and more than 9,000 acres of Buzzards Bay are now typically closed to shell fishing because of high levels of fecal coliform bacteria, a bacteria only found in the intestine of warm blooded animals.

Towns may also use the monitoring to work with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries to establish rainfall conditional closures in eligible areas that are now permanently closed during the summer. The Project will also allow beach associations and citizen groups to participate in the program for worthy projects where funding allows.

Free Testing Announcement to Buzzards Bay Municipalities

Related Information

Barnstable County Beach Results Postings