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Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program

City of New Bedford, MA Information

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Go to the City of New Bedford Website

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Information Page on New Bedford

New Bedford and the Environment

The City of New Bedford is the largest municipality in the Buzzards Bay Watershed, accounting for about 37% of the watershed's population. With a long history as a leading American whaling, industrial, and fishing port, the City of New Bedford faces many pollution problems typical of older industrial sites along the Northeast US seaboard, including impacts from wastewater discharges, industrial discharges, and combined sewer overflows. Because of past industrial dumping, New Bedford became the largest marine EPA Superfund for PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) contamination.

In the past decade, the City of New Bedford has made remarkable strides to improve pollution reduction, including the construction if a new wastewater treatment facility, and the elimination of dry weather CSO discharges. Still, many challenges remain, and the Buzzards Bay NEP is committed to assisting the City of New Bedford achieve its environmental goals and meet the objectives of the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. This page has links that highlight the city's progress on protecting the environment.


Address: City Hall, 133 William Street, New Bedford, MA 02740
Phone: (508) 979-1410, Fax: (508) 979-6189
Form of Government: Mayor with City Council
Mayor: Mayor: Jon Mitchell
City Council President: Brian K. Gomes (508) 979-1455


2000 Population (2000 U.S. Census): 93,768 (percent decrease=6.2%)
1990 Population (1990 U.S. Census): 99,922
2000 Housing Units: 41,511; (including unoccupied)
Average Persons per Unit: 2.26

New Bedford population trends compared to the BB watershed.

Land Use and Geography

Total Land Area: 24.04 sq. miles
Dry Land Area: 20.14 sq. miles
Population Density: 4,961/sq. mile

Public Boat Ramps

East Rodney French Boulevard, H Street, 2 jetties, 1 pier and a paved ramp.
West Rodney French Boulevard, 4 jetties and a paved ramp.

Public Beaches

East Beach (East Rodney French Boulevard)
West Beach (West Rodney French Boulevard)

New Bedford CSOs and NPDES discharge permits

Dredging of PCB and metal contaminated sediments from the EPA Superfund site in New Bedford

Approximately 18,000 acres New Bedford Harbor are highly contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metals, and have been designated a superfund site. The PCB discharges occurred between 1940 to the late 1970s (when PCBs were banned), primarily because of discharges from two manufacturers of electrical equipment. The industrial wastes containing PCBs were discharged directly into the harbor and indirectly via the city's sewerage system.

In the 1980s, the legal cases related to these discharges were settled, and the cleanup planning process began. Actual remediation of the site did not begin until the late 1990s. The Superfund site, and its ongoing cleanup is overseen by EPA. Some of the highest contaminated sediments have already been dredged and removed to an out-of-state disposal site. Related to the superfund process, Damage Assessment Trustees oversee the use of Natural Resource Damage Assessment fines to help fund environmental restoration projects in the affected area. Links with information on these efforts are found below.

EPA Region I's homepage for New Bedford Harbor
EPA's New Bedford superfund cleanup summary page
NOAA's Trustee Information on New Bedford's PCB Superfund Site

Unrelated to superfund activities, the City of New Bedford and Town of Fairhaven worked with MCZM to develop a Harbor Dredged Material Management Plan for dredging of non-hazardous sediments.The 1998 New Bedford/Fairhaven Harbor Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) contains information on that effort.

Potential Wetland Restoration Sites

The following downloads are excerpts from our report Selected Inventory of Potential Wetland Restoration Sites in the Buzzards Bay Watershed. Click the links to open the files in your web browser, or right click to save to your computer. Graphics on these pdf files has been degraded to reduce file size. Request a CD if this report (click the above link for more info)to obtain higher resolution pdf files.

Appendix 5. Sites in New Bedford (2.2 MB pdf file).

New Bedford Locus Map

2005 Award for Brownfields

From CZMail: 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. The city has established numerous partnerships with the public and private sector to support environmental, economic, and social benefits at these sites and is considered a model for coastal communities addressing clean up and reuse of brownfields to meet community goals. For more information about NOAA's award recipients, or to learn more about NOAA's Excellence Awards Program, go to

Selected Reports and Correspondence

July 2000 report on N loading and possible TMDLs for the Fairhaven wastewater treatment facility as it relates to water quality in New Bedford Harbor

1991 Watershed Management Plan Chapter 6: Pollution Remediation Projects in New Bedford

Flushing Analysis of the Acushnet River Estuary (2 MB pdf).

Hyun-Sook Kim, J. Craig Swanson, Jiganesh Patel. 2003. Flushing Analysis in the Acushnet River Estuary. ASA Report 01-123. A flushing study was performed for the Acushnet River estuary (New Bedford Inner Harbor), supported by the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) and U. S. EPA-New England. This work consisted of two parts: field program and numerical computations. The field study was conducted to support the numerical computations. The ultimate goal of this study is to determine the flushing characteristics of the estuary and residence time of the wastewater discharged from the Fairhaven Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) in the lower estuary. This study will eventually serve as a preliminary step in determining the nitrogen TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) that the estuary can assimilate through the Massachusetts Estuary Project effort.

Proposed Bilge Oil Facility for the New Bedford Fishing Fleet and Related Information

NBST article 7/28/00: Another Mystery Oil Spill in New Bedford Harbor

Fishing Fleet Bilge Oil Facility proposal for New Bedford Harbor
This April 2000 proposal was developed by Buzzards Bay NEP in partnership with New Bedford Harbor Development Commission. Matching funds were provided by Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management, Massachusetts Environmental Trust, and the City of New Bedford. This project languished for two years because of complex permitting and siting issues, but in the end, the project died because the City did not want to assume the long term operating costs of operating the facility.

November 2002 announcement from BBP about loss of grant funding for the New Bedford Bilge oil facility

NBST Op Ed piece 7/19/02: Oil removal must be much higher priority
Link to similar facilities built in Texas


Go to the SRPEDD information page on the City of Fall River

Go to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts information page on the New Bedford

Great EPA site on the ecological history of New Bedford Harbor

US Army Corps website on the Hurricane Barrier ("dikes") which they manage

New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park

New Bedford Historic District

NOAA's Trustee Information on New Bedford's PCB Superfund Site

US EPA Record of Decision for the PCB superfund site in New Bedford Harbor

seal of the City of New BedfordVisit the City of New Bedford's website

Newspaper Clippings

November 2006 ST article on PCB cleanup status in New Bedford Harbor.

Elected Officials