Project to Clean Buzzards Bay Watershed Receives $420K in Grant Funding

NEW BEDFORD – The Buzzards Bay Coalition has received nearly $420,000 in grant funding for its effort to expand wastewater treatment to more upper Buzzards Bay watershed communities.

The Southeast New England Program awarded the funding for the Coalition’s partnership that would reduce tens of thousands of pounds of nitrogen each year to help clean several waterways in the watershed that are on the state’s dirty waters list.

The project would expand wasterwater treatment to more upper Bay communities in Wareham, Bourne, Plymouth and Marion.

Wastewater, particularly from traditional home septic systems, is the largest source of nitrogen pollution to the bay.

Nitrogen pollution turns the water cloudy and murky and harms habitat for underwater species like fish, crabs, quahogs, and bay scallops.

The waterways of the upper portion of Buzzards Bay – theAgawam RiverandWareham River,Buttermilk BayandLittle Buttermilk Bay,Sippican Harbor,Aucoot Cove, and theWeweantic River– make up one-third of the entire Buzzards Bay watershed. Every single one of these waterways is on the state’s “dirty waters” list.

The first phase of this project, funded with a SNEP grant in 2015, studied whether it would be feasible to move the discharge pipe from the narrow, upstream waters of the Agawam River to the site of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s existing wastewater treatment plant discharge pipe at the Cape Cod Canal.Through sound science, the project showed that relocating the Wareham discharge pipe would not harm the upper Bay’s health – in fact, it could reduce approximately 80,000 pounds of nitrogen to the Bay per year.

Phase two of this project, which received this month’s grant, expands the original partnership between the Coalition, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and the towns of Wareham, Bourne, and Plymouth to include the town of Marion and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. Together, these partners will collaborate on science, research, and planning to determine how to move the discharge pipe, expand the Wareham facility’s capacity, and run a regional wastewater system.

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