For Immediate Release - May 12, 2017

MassDEP Seeks Public Comments on Cleanup Plan to Restore the Health of the Lake Tashmoo Estuary on Martha's Vineyard

Public Meeting Set for May 24, at 1:30 p.m. in Katharine Cornell Theatre, Tisbury

BOSTON - The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, seeking comments on a draft document identifying the need to limit and reduce the nutrient nitrogen in the coastal waters of the Lake Tashmoo estuarine system on Martha's Vineyard. The meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. in the Katharine Cornell Theatre, 51 Spring St., Tisbury.

The restoration plan for this estuary system, formulated by MassDEP and the University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST), is proposed as part of a comprehensive, collaborative project intended to improve estuarine water quality in 70 embayments along the southeastern Massachusetts coastline.

This coastal water body is currently impaired because of excess nutrients, mainly nitrogen, which chokes water bodies with harmful algae, depletes oxygen for fish and shellfish populations, destroys critical eelgrass beds needed for sustaining marine life and reduces swimming, fishing and boating opportunities throughout these local waters.

At the public meeting, MassDEP staff will present a draft Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for limiting nitrogen to the amounts that the water bodies can absorb without violating water quality standards and impairing uses such as fishing and recreational activities. The plan calls for reducing watershed sources of nitrogen by up to 32 percent. Most of the reductions will be from better treatment and handling of wastewater, but nitrogen from storm water and fertilizer use should also be controlled wherever possible. The TMDL analysis and watershed modeling will serve as a planning tool for communities to implement new comprehensive wastewater management strategies in order to improve estuarine water quality.     

A copy of this MassDEP Draft TMDL Report for Total Nitrogen and a further explanation of the TMDL Program are here.

The Massachusetts Estuaries Project Final Technical Reports for the Lake Tashmoo Estuary System on which the TMDLs were based, are also available at the Tisbury, West Tisbury and Oak Bluffs Town Halls.

The public comment period ends at 5 p.m., June 30, 2017. Written comments can be submitted to: Barbara Kickham, Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Watershed Management, 8 New Bond Street, Worcester, MA 01606. Electronic format comments should be sent to: barbara.kickham@state.ma.us

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.

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