Cohasett's New Watershed Academy
Working with Jack Buckley from the Cohasset Middle and High School and a team of partners with the Cohasset Center for Student Coastal Research (CSCR), the MBP helped to scope and implement a grant from Microsoft’s Partners in Learning program to establish the Watershed Academy. The Watershed Academy is an after-school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program designed to augment scientific inquiry skills and apply these learned skills to address real environmental problems in the students' communities. The Watershed Academy method emphasizes collaborative learning. Students are partners with professional scientists, town officials, community leaders, and teachers to develop the skills and knowledge needed to expand the understanding of important environmental concerns in their community. The Watershed Academy is a project-based, goal-driven curriculum that immerses students in the scientific process, exposes them to the complexities of environmental sciences, and challenges them to become community leaders. MBP will continue to help develop the Watershed Academy and establish ways to transfer its success to other regions.
Further, as a response to local citizens' concerns about degraded water quality in Cohasset Harbor, MBP helped guide a pilot monitoring project with CSCR students and faculty over this past summer to evaluate water quality impairment in the Cohasset Estuary system. The project participants monitored for nutrients, chlorophyll and other typical water quality parameters (e.g., salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen). This project was funded, in part, through the volunteer monitoring program of the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Office (MCZM) and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
Peabody and Salem Flooding
Flooding of the North River is a serious problem in Peabody and portions of Salem. The City of Peabody has had recurring flood problems since the 1950's, and major flood events have taken place at least every ten years since 1954. The most recent, in May of 2006, brought waist-high waters to the Peabody Square area. Residents and business owners are tired and frustrated with the recurrent problems caused by flooding. However, the issues are complicated, multi-faceted, and do not lend themselves to "quick-fix" solutions or a single solution.
Salem Sound Coastwatch (SSCW, the Salem Sound regional partner of MBP) met with people from all walks of life in Peabody and Salem to gain a better understanding of solutions that they would find acceptable. What became clear is that many people lack knowledge about how rivers work. In response, SSCW worked with the North River Stream Team and the Massachusetts Riverways Program to conduct two public seminars to inform area residents about the river's history, hydrology, and the role of wetlands, floodplains, and stormwater. The seminars were run on community access television, with an additional call-in talk show. SSCW also held its fifth annual North River Awareness Week, which brings attention to the river through guided walks and an annual smelt count conducted by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries . Through this community outreach, SSCW has been able to increase the public's knowledge and gain more support for stormwater reduction and low impact development alternatives.
Checking in with RiverWatch
Since 1994, the North and South Rivers Watershed Association (NSWRA) , (MBP's South Shore regional partner) annual RiverWatch Sampling Program has coordinated volunteers to monitor ten sites along the North and South Rivers for fecal coliform bacteria during the summer months. The program provides the public with information regarding which sections of the river are safe for recreational use, and helps NSRWA identify, and potentially eliminate, sources of pollution in the rivers. During the summer, the water quality data is published in the local newspapers.
This past year, the program expanded its usual monitoring parameters (fecal coliform, temperature, and salinity) to include dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and enterococci bacteria. Overall bacterial levels were lower throughout the two rivers this past year, although this may be due to the lack of rain. The few areas that had high bacterial counts even in extended dry weather have been high but improving over the past ten years, which suggests that the next step might be to determine the source (point or non-point) of the bacteria. For more information and archived data, visit the RiverWatch Newsletter website.
Cape Cod NDA Update
The Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC, MBP's regional partner on the Cape) has been busy working on the designation of Cape Cod Bay as a No Discharge Area (NDA) for boat sewage. In September and October, six towns agreed to support the NDA designation, and the Cape Cod Bay No Discharge Area Working Group plans to approach the remaining five towns for their support in the coming months. In November, APCC helped two towns (Provincetown and Dennis) to prepare and submit proposals for pumpouts to CZM's Coastal Pollutant Remediation (CPR) program, and is working with other towns (Sandwich and Barnstable) to assist them in expanding their pumpout capabilities. The Working Group hopes to submit an NDA application by the spring of 2008.
Great Marsh Restoration First Steps
Eight Towns and the Bay, MBP's upper North Shore partner, has begun to investigate numerous sites identified in the Great Marsh Restoration Plan recently completed by the Massachusetts Wetlands Restoration Program (MWRP). Eight Towns and the Bay is assisting MWRP by meeting with property owners and abutters of numerous potential wetlands restoration project sites listed in the Great Marsh plan to generate interest in these projects. With the property owner's and abutters' support, the MWRP can begin to collect data, such as site hydrology, typography, infrastructure, and vegetation, to assess the feasibility of these potential restoration projects. MWRP will then synthesize this data to produce recommendations and conceptual designs. We'll keep you posted as the projects move forward!
Mass. Bays in San Juan
MBP Executive Director Jan Smith headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico in November for the annual Association of National Estuary Programs conference. Hosted by the San Juan Bay Estuary Program, the conference featured two presentations by Jan regarding MBP's recent marine invasive species rapid assessment surveys and efforts towards developing biological indicators of estuary condition.
Be sure to read the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies' State of the Bay 2007 report for Cape Cod Bay. The report highlights comprehensive water quality research and addresses issues that concern local, state, and federal resource managers.
Produced in January, 2008