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Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program

Notice for Free Water Sample Analysis for Buzzards Bay

2002 Announcement Letter

[free testing was also provided in 2001]

Important Reminder: Free testing of water samples is available for Beaches, Stormwater Discharges, Pond Eutrophication, Upstream Sources Contributing to Shellfish Bed Closures or Threats to Drinking Water Supplies

July 19, 2002

To: Boards of Health, Boards of Selectmen, and Shellfish Wardens of the Buzzards Bay watershed

Re: Free testing of water samples from beaches, stormwater discharges, and upstream pollution sources contributing to shellfish bed closures, beach closures, and potential threats to human health

Dear Municipal Officials:

The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program has again made available funds during this summer and fall, in order to assist area Boards of Health and other municipal departments with the following tasks to better protect public health:

1) Perform unbudgeted testing of water quality at both public and private freshwater and saltwater bathing beaches.

2) Assist in identifying upstream sources of pollution contributing to shellfish bed closures and establish priorities for stormwater remediation. Guidance on this issue can be provided by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the BBP.

3) Collect data for the establishment of rainfall-conditional shellfish bed openings (please consult with your Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries area biologist to ascertain whether potential rainfall conditional areas exist in your community).

5) Conduct daily testing or rainfall time-course studies at swimming beaches, shellfish beds, and other areas that are affected by runoff pollution to ascertain where automatic rainfall closures are warranted, and for what period of time.

6) Conduct tests for pollutants other than pathogens, especially those with human health impacts.

7) Evaluate discharges contributing to pond eutrophication, especially where there may be direct or indirect threats or impacts to human health.

In June, the Buzzards Bay Action Committee (BBAC), a nonprofit organization composed of municipal officials, hired an intern to assist Buzzards Bay municipalities with the collection of beach water samples. The Buzzards Bay NEP has been paying for the analysis of these samples. Six Buzzards Bay municipalities are participating in this program For more information on the BBAC initiative, contact BBAC Execurtive Director Len Gonsalves at 508-999-1131.

Contracts are in place at both the New Bedford Health Department and the Barnstable County Department of Health and the Environment to test water samples for either fecal coliform bacteria, Enterococci, or both. Towns may drop off water samples at the laboratories, or in certain instances, can arrange for a pick-up by a BBP staff member or trained volunteer in accordance with chain of custody procedures. Training can be arranged for volunteers.

The use of the laboratories must be preapproved by the Buzzards Bay NEP (BBP). Preapproval can be done by phone. BBP Administrative Assistant Tracy Warncke will act as coordinator between the towns and laboratories. However, after approval, towns are encouraged to coordinate directly with the respective laboratory. The laboratory contracts have been established to ensure maximum flexibility to meet special needs by participating towns, including weekend analyses to evaluate rainfall events or studies of pathogen decline after rainfalls. Towns should consult weather forecasts and notify the BBP and participating laboratory in instances where 5 or 7 day continuous sampling is envisioned.

The following Buzzards Bay watershed towns are eligible: Westport, Dartmouth, New Bedford, Acushnet, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Rochester, Marion, Middleboro, Carver, Plymouth, Wareham, Bourne, and Falmouth. Although sites monitored may be either freshwater ponds or coastal waters, they must be in the Buzzards Bay watershed (see attached map). Stormwater samples and stream surveys may also be included. There will be no charge to municipalities for these services. A total of $15,000 has been allocated for this service through 2003.

More information about this water quality testing program can be found at the Buzzards Bay NEP's website, buzzardsbay.org. Please do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions regarding this initiative.

Sincerely,

Joseph E. Costa, Ph.D.

Executive Director




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