The goal of the Coastal Pollution Remediation (CPR) grant program, which is administered by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), is to improve coastal water quality and associated habitats by reducing nonpoint source (NPS) pollution. The nation’s leading cause of water quality problems, NPS pollution occurs when contaminants are picked up by rain water and snowmelt and carried over land or through drainage systems to the nearest water body. Since 1996, more than $6 million in CPR grants have been awarded to address NPS pollution problems from cars, trucks, boats, and other transportation sources. Through CPR, CZM has been working closely with coastal communities to: 1) assess and identify sources of NPS pollution from paved surfaces (such as roads and parking lots), 2) design and construct appropriate control methods (also known as Best Management Practices or BMPs), and 3) install commercial boat pumpout facilities for the proper disposal of boat sewage. CPR funds, combined with in-kind services or monetary match from communities, have created these lasting results:
- Protecting Plymouth Herring Habitat - Great Herring Pond in Plymouth provides spawning habitat for herring (both alewife and blueback) and is part of a regionally significant anadromous fish run that flows to the Cape Cod Canal. During storms, rainwater was eroding steep sections of an unpaved road and carrying sediment and pollutants into the pond, potentially harming the habitat of one of the state’s most productive river herring populations. Data collected by the town of Plymouth, in partnership with three volunteer pond associations, confirmed that large quantities of bacteria and phosphorus were entering Great Herring Pond. To help remedy the problem, Plymouth used two CPR grants to first design and then install a system to collect and treat stormwater runoff from approximately 10 acres of roadways and residential lots. The installed oil separators, rain garden, and other BMPs now remove pollutants (such as sediments, nutrients, bacteria, and oil) before they reach this herring habitat.
- Opening Duxbury Shellfish Beds - Thanks to multiple CPR grants, Duxbury designed and constructed a variety of systems to reduce contamination that was contributing to shellfish bed closures in Kingston Bay and threatening to close shellfish beds in Duxbury Bay. With the construction and installation of nine leaching facilities to treat first-flush runoff (i.e., the first inch of rainfall), combined with the town’s previous efforts to identify and fix failing septic systems, Snug Harbor in Duxbury Bay—once a hotspot for pollution—remains an open and viable shellfish bed and aquaculture seeding area. And farther south in Kingston Bay, other cleanup efforts have led to portions of the shellfish beds being reclassified from “prohibited” to “conditionally approved” (i.e., rather than being permanently closed they are only closed some of the time, such as when heavy rainfall carries contaminated runoff to the beds).
- Tackling Priority Pollution Problems on the Cape Cod Coast - The Bass River estuary in Dennis and Yarmouth, with its many bathing beaches, boat launches, and other access points for swimming and boating, also contains numerous marshes and tidal flats that serve as important habitat for fish (including bluefish, white perch, striped bass, and winter flounder) and shellfish (such as quahogs, clams, blue mussels, scallops, and oysters). Although the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has listed these waters as “outstanding resource waters” (i.e., protected by the most stringent standards due to their important public values), NPS pollution was threatening the water quality of the estuary—resulting in the closing of many shellfish areas. A comprehensive assessment identified a number of sites where stormwater was having the greatest environmental impact, and CPR funding was used to address the four highest priority sites. BMPs designed to hold and treat the stormwater, grading modifications made along the river, and a boat pumpout facility constructed at one of the adjacent marinas now reduce the NPS pollutants entering these important coastal waters.
- Enhancing Estuaries in Brewster - The Stony Brook watershed, Paines Creek estuary, and the connecting Cape Cod Bay shores provide important public bathing beaches, shellfish growing areas, and rare species habitat, as well as a valued herring run leading to hundreds of acres of spawning habitat in the headwater ponds. Untreated runoff from the many adjacent asphalt roads and parking lots, however, was leading to water pollution, degraded habitat, and closed shellfish beds. With the help of federal, regional, private, and state funds—including CPR grants—the town conducted a comprehensive effort that included salt marsh restorations, fish passage improvements, an assessment and prioritization of sources of runoff pollution, and the design and permitting of multiple stormwater BMPs. The series of constructed stormwater infiltrators, settling tanks, and catch basins now reduce the contaminants flowing into the estuary, helping to protect and enhance approximately eight acres of shellfish beds and this important herring run.
- Preserving Buzzards Bay Shellfish Beds - Combined with concerted efforts and assistance from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, CPR funds have helped many communities improve water quality and reduce shellfish bed closures in Buzzards Bay. The town of Marion used CPR funds to design final plans and install new catch basins, pretreatment devices, and biofilter units to address elevated bacteria levels that were causing shellfish bed closures in Sippican Harbor. While a small portion of the inner harbor remains closed to shellfishing, other areas of the inner harbor are now classified as conditionally approved and the outer harbor remains open. The town of Bourne also used CPR funds to address bacteria-laden stormwater that was flowing from Conservation Pond to Hen Cove—important shellfish habitat in Buzzards Bay. The town identified, designed, and installed multiple catch basin systems and a bioremediation filter (with live plants) in the upper and lower reaches of the Conservation Pond watershed. The CPR projects at Conservation Pond are part of a continuing effort to improve water quality by keeping roadway pollutants from flushing into Hen Cove.