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A Community-Based Nutrient Water Quality Monitoring Project to Support Habitat Protection in Nantucket Sound

Project summary: Funded by the National Marine Fisheries Service, this project establishes a system-wide volunteer water sampling program to provide baseline information about the water quality in Nantucket Sound in order to examine the potential link between impaired waters discharging from coastal embayments and the impact on the water and habitat quality of the Sound. At present, it is clear that portions of all of the southern shore embayments of Cape Cod are experiencing nutrient related water quality declines primarily related to changes in watershed land-use associated with increasing population within the coastal zone over the past half century.

The primary nutrient causing the increasing impairment of the Commonwealth’s coastal embayments is nitrogen and the primary sources of this nitrogen are wastewater disposal, fertilizers, with indirect increases resulting from alterations to freshwater hydrology associated with development. Within Nantucket Sound, surface and bottom samples of dissolved oxygen, temperature, and salinity/specific conductivity are being collected at 16 sites by teams of volunteers that include commercial fishermen and fishing families. Marine water samples are being analyzed for concentrations of nitrate, ammonium, ortho-phosphate, particulate carbon, particulate nitrogen, dissolved organic nitrogen, chlorophyll a & pheophytin a and specific conductance. Nitrogen related water quality decline represents one of the most serious threats to the ecological health of the near shore coastal waters that impacts both benthic and pelagic habitats, and therefore the health of our local fisheries.

Sampling Sites

Project partners:
Dr. Brian Howes, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, School for Marine Science and Technology
Roland Samimy, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, School for Marine Science and Technology
Olivia Free, Massachusetts Fishermen's Partnership



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