South Coastal watershed map
The South Coastal Watersheds consist of 14 coastal river watersheds with a total drainage area of approximately 240.7 square miles that span over all or part of 19 municipalities. The major coastal watersheds include the North and South Rivers (combined drainage area 105 square miles), the Jones River (30 square miles), and the Gulf/Bound Brook (16 square miles).

It is also one of eleven watersheds in eastern Massachusetts that discharge directly to the ocean. The South Coastal Watersheds contain numerous wetlands, many of which are used to cultivate cranberries. There are also many small coastal plain lakes and ponds scattered throughout the basin, numbering more than 350, 56 of which cover at least ten acres. Silver Lake, in Plympton, Kingston, and Pembroke, is 640 acres.

The Plymouth-Carver aquifer, located in the southern part of the watershed, provides much of the drinking water and stream flow for this region and has also been designated by the EPA as a sole-source aquifer. The South Coastal Watersheds are biologically significant because they are home to one of the state's largest assemblages of rare and endangered species, particularly so in Plymouth's coastal ponds. The Towns of Plymouth and Duxbury are of international significance because of the shoreline habitats provided to shore birds of the sandpiper family that migrate in the late summer.

Watershed Priorities

  • Involving all stakeholders, develop a Silver Lake Regional Natural Resources Management Plan through the Silver Lake Stewardship Project
  • Increase awareness about water quality and water quantity impacts from stormwater runoff and establish strategies that engage homeowners, developers, and public officials to protect and restore water quality and quantity from those impacts
  • Develop a Regional Open Space and Recreation Plan involving local stakeholders. See Publications above to access the completed Plan and maps
  • Promote smart growth strategies that minimize the loss of open space and biodiversity of upland, freshwater, and coastal ecosystems, and protect and/or restore ground and surface water quality and quantity from current and future land use impacts
  • Continue to identify opportunities to develop and/or nurture alliances for stream teams, lakes and ponds associations, and watershed associations in areas without environmental stewardship
  • A study was completed to find a logistic regression equation for estimating the probability of a stream flowing perennially in Massachusetts. See the results of the study at USGS's web site

Scenic river view Watershed Successes

The Town of Kingston now has canoe/kayak car-top access on the estuary of the Jones River at the former LaPlante property. A first for the Jones River estuary!

Dedicated as Mulliken's Landing at the AhDeNah during Kingston's first Earth Walk 2002 event, this newly acquired 2.36-acre parcel is now open to the public. Acquisition of the property could not have been achieved without the diligence of all partners, in particular the Jones River Watershed Association, the Town of Kingston, and programs and offices of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Watershed Publications

Watershed Links

Eel River Watershed Association
Mass Bays South Shore Region
Manomet Center for Conservaton Sciences
Mass Audubon North River Wildlife Sanctuary
Plymouth County Soil Survey Update
Six Ponds Association Water Quality Task Force (Town of Plymouth)
Wildlands Trust of Southeastern MA
Cohasset Center for Student Coastal Research
Gulf River Estuary Natural Resources Inventory 


This information is provided by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Office of Water Policy