- Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
- Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM)
Media Contact for Healey-Driscoll Administration Awards Grants to Improve Water Quality and Habitat in the Buzzards Bay Watershed
Anne Donovan, Communications Manager
Boston — The Healey-Driscoll Administration today announced $558,531 in federally-funded grants for projects that will improve water quality and habitat in the Buzzards Bay watershed. These five grants will fund efforts to treat stormwater discharges, create salt marsh habitat, study the effectiveness of nitrogen removal from a wastewater treatment plant, assess the feasibility of a neighborhood-scale wastewater system, and comply with stormwater management requirements. Grants are awarded by the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program (NEP) through the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. The grants also leverage $336,000 in local, state, and federal funds and in-kind services and help meet Massachusetts’ climate resilience and environmental equity goals.
“These local projects address water quality and habitat health goals while focusing on addressing defined community needs,” said Energy & Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper. “The Healey-Driscoll Administration is committed to going after federal funds such as these to support communities in advancing their environmental protection priorities throughout the watershed.”
“The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program makes tremendous efforts to provide not only the technical support for local action but to secure federal funds that make a direct impact on the local level,” said CZM Director Lisa Berry Engler. “Congratulations to these communities for actively working with these partners to improve water quality and habitat in the region.”
The following municipalities were awarded grants:
- The Town of Fairhaven will receive $125,000 to improve water quality in Outer New Bedford-Fairhaven Harbor by reducing pollution from stormwater runoff. The grant will fund stormwater retrofits, including green infrastructure designs to treat road runoff from Jerusalem Road and leverage other state funding. The runoff currently discharges to a shellfish growing area, causing the area to be closed periodically to shellfishing after rainfall.
- The City of New Bedford and its partner, Groundwork Southcoast, will receive $93,531 to hire an engineering firm to conduct a feasibility study and develop design plans for creating a salt marsh habitat in a manmade pond in Riverside Park. The pond is currently overgrown with invasive species and is often used as a dumping ground. The project will return the area to a natural state and create a tidal exchange with the Acushnet River. Groundwork Southcoast and its Green Team, which employs area youth, will work with the city and residents to build environmental stewardship and help ensure that designs for the popular waterfront park meet community needs and environmental sustainability goals.
- The Town of Wareham and its partner, the Marine Biological Laboratory, will receive $275,000 to scale up prior pilot studies that showed nitrogen levels can be lowered and effluent quality can be significantly improved at the Wareham Water Pollution Facility by passing effluent through biofilters composed of wood chip media. The proposed Phase 2 field trials will explore how earlier pilot experiments can be scaled to 40-foot-long reactors and will calculate flow rates and infrastructure needed to handle the municipal facility’s daily flows. The Wareham Water Pollution Facility currently has stringent nitrogen limits imposed on its discharge, and the new bioreactor technology, which is more cost-effective than other approaches, would help the town further reduce its nitrogen loading to coastal waters. If successful, the new technology will allow for the increased capacity of the wastewater facility and much-needed expansion of sewering in the town.
- The Town of Wareham and its partner, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, will receive $40,000 to assess the feasibility of constructing a neighborhood-scale wastewater system with the purpose of reducing nitrogen pollution from onsite septic systems near Little Harbor Beach on Great Neck. The study will identify potential nearby town-owned property outside the flood zone where the facility might be sited.
- The Town of Westport will receive $25,000 to hire a consultant to assist the town with monitoring and investigating municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) discharges to comply with the town’s federal stormwater permit. The proposed work will safeguard the town’s waterbodies and groundwater by assisting with the control of polluted stormwater runoff, which is a major cause of water quality impairments in the town.
“Communities in the Buzzards Bay watershed have made it clear they need help dealing with the myriad of wastewater, stormwater, and climate resilience issues they face,” said Executive Director of the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program Joe Costa. “We are excited to provide the funding to address these issues and support these important water quality and habitat projects.”
“Our region’s waters are its most vital asset and improvements to our water quality not only have environmental benefits but strengthen our local economy,” said Congressman Bill Keating. “The projects selected this year show a diverse and innovative approach to addressing water quality issues in our area. The National Estuary Program is critical in its support for communities throughout the South Coast and Southeastern Massachusetts. I will continue to work in Congress to support the program and applaud the Governor on the selection of these worthwhile projects.”
“I am extremely pleased the Town of Wareham will be receiving over $300,000 to improve local water quality and wastewater management,” said Dean of the Massachusetts Senate Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton). “These valuable grant funds will support the deployment of critical technological updates designed to fortify local infrastructure and reduce costs on behalf of Wareham residents. Many thanks to our federal delegation for their advocacy as well as the Marine Biological Laboratory and the Buzzards Bay Coalition for their collaboration with the local community.”
“At a time when Wareham is facing challenges associated with the operation of the Water Pollution Control Facility this grant funding is very much appreciated,” said State Representative Susan Gifford (R-Wareham). “I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for their assistance.”
The Office of Coastal Zone Management is the lead policy and planning agency on coastal and ocean issues within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Created in 1985, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program provides grants and technical assistance to Buzzards Bay watershed communities to protect and restore water quality and natural resources in Buzzards Bay and its surrounding watershed and is one of 28 similar programs designated by the EPA.