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Harmful Algal Blooms and Lawn Care in Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard



Falmouth has taken responsible steps to address the cause of death for sixteen striped bass, a horseshoe crab and an unidentified crab found on the shore of Little Pond. Note in the picture the number of houses crowding Little Pond, left of Great Pond.

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In this episode of Moir’s Environmental Dialogues podcast, Rob talked with Ocean River Institute summer interns Asa Magdenz and Sara Trimble about how people need to understand that what they do on their property on the land can harm aquatic and marine life beyond.  Asa and Sara discuss what causes harmful algal blooms and ocean dead zones.  Sara reviews lawn care regulations for Northeast States and in particular Massachusetts.

Waquoit Bay East Falmouth

Asa presented research findings from in Waquoit Bay, an estuary located between Falmouth and Mashapee.  The Child’s River flows from the John’s Pond south in the Bay.  Septic nitrogen into the Child’s River is fourteen times the kilograms per day of what the input would if no one lived there.  Land run off is three and a half times the nitrogen.   The Quashnet River, located to the east of the Child’s River and flowing through Quashnet Woods State Reservation behind Mashpee High School, has a septic nitrogen input of three and a half times no residents.  The nitrogen off land surfaces is two times.  The difference between the two rivers is apparent when one looks at a map and sees many more houses packed like sardines around the Child’s River.   Eel pond, connected to and west of Waquoit Bay is the worst with twenty-one times septic nitrogen and five times off the land. The EPA has called for a reduction in Waquoit Bay from the present incoming 91 kilograms per day nitrogen down to 42 kilograms per day nitrogen.

Tisbury Great Pond Map

On the south shore of Martha’s Vineyard is Tisbury Great Pond, a type of estuary known as a brackish lake.  Tisbury Pond watershed is nearly as big as Waquoit Bay. Yet Tisbury, without houses around it, is polluted by only 46 kilograms per day of nitrogen.  The EPA has called for a nitrogen reduction to 37 kilograms per day.

Falmouth is working hard to reduce nitrogen pollution of coastal waters assisted by the Buzzards Bay Coalition and Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program.  The Martha’s Vineyard Commission is working with community groups and home-owners to reduce nitrogen pollution of Tisbury Great Pond.

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