Guide The Massachusetts Estuaries Project and Reports

This project studies nutrient loads in coastal waters.

The Project

Nutrients are essential to the vitality of our coastal ecosystem. Nutrients, in particular phosphorus and nitrogen, support the growth of aquatic plants, which in turn provide food for the fish, shellfish, and other organisms that live in our coastal waters. An excess of nutrients can result in a decline in aquatic plants and wildlife, negatively impacting these coastal ecosystems. Nutrients come from a variety of sources, including natural and anthropogenic sources. Anthropogenic sources can include septic systems, fertilizer application, and stormwater runoff.

In 2001, the Massachusetts Estuaries Project (MEP) was created to help determine current nitrogen loads to southeastern Massachusetts estuaries and evaluate reductions that would be necessary to support healthy ecosystems. The MEP is a collaborative effort between MassDEP, UMass Dartmouth, and southern Massachusetts communities. MEP evaluations will be completed for approximately 70 coastal embayments in southern Massachusetts.

The MEP uses a linked model to evaluate nitrogen inputs to estuaries. This information is used by MassDEP to develop Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for each estuary studied. TMDLs calculate the maximum amount of a pollutant (nitrogen in this case) that a waterbody can assimilate and still support a healthy ecosystem (i.e., meet surface water quality standards and support public health). The MEP also provides technical guidance to support appropriate wastewater, watershed, and embayment management techniques to reduce nitrogen loading. This technical guidance is being used by communities to support the development of Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plans (CWMPs).

Additional Resources for The Project

South Coast/Buzzards Bay MEP Reports

Cape Cod MEP Reports

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Wellfleet Harbor Embayment System, Wellfleet, MA - 2017

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Sandwich Harbor Estuary, Sandwich, MA - 2015

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Scorton Creek Estuarine System, Sandwich, MA - 2015

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Rushy Marsh, Barnstable, MA - 2008

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Allen, Wychmere, & Saquatucket Harbor Embayment Systems, Harwich MA - 2010

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Bass River Embayment System, Towns of Yarmouth & Dennis, MA - 2011

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Centerville River, Barnstable, MA - 2006

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Stage Harbor, Sulfur Springs, Taylors Pond, Bassing Harbor, & Muddy Creek, Chatham, MA - 2003

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Re-evaluate Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Stage Harbor/Oyster Pond, Sulphur Springs/Bucks Creek and Taylors Pond/Mill Creek Chatham, MA - 2007

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Falmouth Inner Harbor Embayment System, Falmouth MA - 2013

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Fiddlers Cove & Rands Harbor Embayment Systems, Falmouth MA - 2013

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Great Perch Pond, Green Pond, & Bournes Pond, Falmouth MA - 2005

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Herring River Embayment System, Harwich MA - 2013

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Lewis Bay Embayment System, Barnstable/Yarmouth, MA - 2008

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Little Pond System, Falmouth, MA - 2006

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Megansett-Squeteague Harbor Estuarine System, Falmouth/Bourne, MA - 2015

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Namskaket Marsh Estuarine System, Orleans, MA - 2008

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Nauset Harbor Embayment System, Orleans & Eastham, MA - 2012

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Oyster Pond System, Falmouth MA - 2006

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Parkers River Embayment System, Yarmouth MA - 2010

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Phinneys Harbor, Eel Pond, & Back River System, Bourne MA - 2006

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Pleasant Bay System, Orleans, Chatham, Brewster & Harwich, MA - 2006

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Popponesset Bay, Mashpee & Barnstable, MA - 2004

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Quissett Harbor Embayment System, Falmouth, MA - 2013

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Rock Harbor Embayment System, Orleans, MA - 2008

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Salt Harbor Embayment System, Falmouth, MA - 2014

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Swan Pond River Embayment System, Dennis, MA - 2012

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Waquoit Bay & Eel Pond Embayment System, Falmouth & Mashpee, MA - 2013

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for West Falmouth Harbor, Falmouth, MA - 2006

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Wild Harbor Embayment System, Falmouth, MA - 2013
 

Islands MEP Reports

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Chilmark Pond Embayment System, Chilmark, MA - 2015

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Edgartown Great Pond System, Edgartown, MA - 2008

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Farm Pond System, Oak Bluffs, MA - 2010

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Lagoon Pond Embayment System, Oak Bluffs & Tisbury, MA - 2010

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Madaket Harbor & Long Pond Estuarine System, Nantucket, MA - 2010

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Nantucket Harbor, Nantucket, MA - 2006

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Oak Bluffs Harbor System, Oak Bluffs, MA - 2013

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Sengekontacket Pond System, Oak Bluffs & Edgartown, MA - 2011

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Sesachacha Pond, Nantucket, MA - 2006

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Lake Tashmoo Estuary, Tisbury, West Tisbury, and Oak Bluffs, MA

Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for Tisbury Great Pond/Black Point Pond System, Dennis, MA - 2013
 

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