Plan to Reduce Nitrogen in Massachusetts River

Sept. 26, 2018

Slocum River is impaired from excess nutrients

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) held a public meeting Thursday, Sept. 20. According to SouthCoast Today, the department sought comments on a draft document identifying the need to limit and reduce the nutrient nitrogen in the coastal waters of the Slocum River estuary system. The meeting was set for 6 p.m. in room 304 of Town Hall, 400 Slocum Road in Dartmouth, Mass.

The restoration plan for the estuary system, formulated by MassDEP and UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology, is proposed as part of a collaborative project to improve water quality throughout SouthCoast.

“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,” the state said in a news release.

MassDEP staff will present a draft for Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for limiting nitrogen to the amount the water 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 24%. Most reductions would be from better treatment and handling of wastewater and stormwater, but nitrogen from fertilizer use and farm animals should be controlled wherever possible, according to the state.

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.

Public comment period ends at 5 p.m. on Oct. 31. Written comments can be submitted to Barbara Kickham, Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Watershed Management, 8 New Bond St., Worcester, Mass., 01606. Comments via email should be sent to [email protected].