Testing the Waters

Storm Water Sampling

By Joe Costa, Executive Director of the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program.

The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program (NEP) has been working with Buzzards Bay communities since the 1990s to map storm water catch basins and discharge pipes. In 2016, the NEP collaborated with the non-profit Buzzards Bay Action Committee (BBAC) to form the Buzzards Bay Stormwater Collaborative, beginning a more systematic effort to map underground storm water networks and monitor storm water discharges. The initiative, funded by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Healthy Communities grant to the BBAC, consisted of five participating municipal public works departments (Dartmouth, Acushnet, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, and Wareham) working with staff from the BBAC and NEP.

The Buzzards Bay Stormwater Collaborative is expanding in February 2019 thanks to a new partnership with the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA). This new initiative, which is funded by a $160,000 award from the Buzzards Bay NEP using EPA Southeast New England Program grant funds, will add three additional municipalities (Westport, Marion, and Bourne) to the collaborative. Under the agreement, MMA will provide staff support and co-op students who will work with Buzzards Bay municipalities and the Buzzards Bay NEP. Students participating in MMA’s Environmental Monitoring program—including four part-time work-study students during the school year, five full time co-op students during the summer, and a full time coordinator—will join the team. In addition to funding, the Buzzards Bay NEP is providing supervision to the students, water quality test kits for the project, and contracts with local laboratories to test storm water for bacteria and other contaminants that cannot be measured using field test kits. Professor Bill Hubbard, who is the instructor of two MMA Environmental Monitoring courses, is coordinating the effort for the Academy.

“Buzzards Bay municipalities are enthusiastic for this support,” said Joe Costa, Executive Director of the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program. “Mapping storm water networks and monitoring discharges is a requirement for a new U.S. EPA storm water permit that municipalities must comply with beginning in June 2019, and this partnership will help give these communities the expertise and staff support to get their work done.”

Francis J. Veale, Jr. Chair, Marine Science, Safety and Environmental Protection Department at MMA noted, “Students at Massachusetts Maritime Academy will be working with municipalities and the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program to analyze real world environmental issues. This partnership will further the regional knowledge of ecological risks for the Buzzards Bay watershed, while giving our students hands-on experience preparing them for their future careers.” William A. Hubbard, a Marine Ecologist in the Department further noted, “These internships are just what our students need to bolster their applied science skills. They will take pride in the contribution they make to bettering the ecological conditions of our Buzzards Bay estuary.” Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

For more information on past monitoring efforts, data reports, and maps visit http://stormwater.buzzardsbay.org/.