New Bedford Harbor Monitoring Partnership

EPA Grant Number: R829325
Title: New Bedford Harbor Monitoring Partnership
Investigators: Alfonse, Scott , Belknap, Cheryl , Howes, Brian , Rothschild, Brian
Current Investigators: Alfonse, Scott , Howes, Brian , Peterson, Susan , Rothschild, Brian
Institution: City of New Bedford , New Bedford Oceanarium , The School for Marine Science and Technology
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: September 1, 2001 through October 30, 2003 (Extended to May 31, 2005)
Project Amount: $351,928
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Statistics , Water , Ecosystems , Air , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration


Estuaries provide essential water quality, economic, aesthetic and recreational services to coastal communities. At present, these services are being degraded throughout Southeastern MA by nutrient over-enrichment. The Acushnet River Estuary is among the most heavily eutrophic (over fertilized) embayments in MA. The effects of eutrophication are visible to the public and hinder community efforts to build cultural tourism and water based recreational development. This project provides information on the nutrient related health of this estuary and the major processes, which control the health and workings of estuaries in general.


Eutrophication is the primary ecological health issue for the Acushnet River Estuary (PCB clean-up is proceeding) and a major factor inhibiting increased public use of the waterfront. The EMPACT project provides the information and forum to educate officials and citizens as to the health of the estuary–that PCB clean-up will not "solve all water quality problems" and that management of watershed nutrient sources will be needed to restore most uses.


Moored-telemetering instruments will be deployed from the fresh headwaters to the source marine waters of the estuary. Rainfall and stream flow will be measured as driving variables of estuarine water quality. Within the tidal waters, at 3 locations and at an adjacent reference station within the City's major shellfishing area, both surface and bottom sensors will telemeter key estuarine process data on salinity, temperature, stage height, dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll. The mooring will be supplemented by periodic spatial sampling for oxygen and nutrients (inorganic and organic). These key environmental parameters are necessary to assess and track changes in nutrient related water quality and interactions with the physical processes of water column stratification and estuarine circulation.

Expected Results:

Since significant amounts of nutrients (and fecal coliforms) enter the Acushnet River Estuary through surface water discharges (Acushnet River, combined sewer overflows (CSO's) and outfalls), we anticipate a strong correlation between rainfall and estuarine health. Such a linkage provides impetus for better management of CSOs and effluent discharges, for which planning is currently underway. The proposed project will help citizens make the connections between improved water quality and reduction of nutrient inputs from these sources while providing required technical information management and restoration efforts.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 7 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

estuary, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll, eutrophication, nitrogen, New Bedford Harbor, Buzzards Bay, watershed, science education, University of Massachusetts School for Marine Science and Technology, New Bedford Oceanarium, water, watersheds, marine, estuary, precipitation, ecological effects, effluent, discharge, ecosystem, aquatic, restoration, decision making, community-based, observation, public good, willingness-to-pay, conservation, environmental assets, sociological, environmental chemistry, environmental biology, hydrology, ecology, modeling, monitoring, measurement methods, general circulation models, Northeast, EPA Region 1, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, ECOSYSTEMS, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, estuarine research, Environmental Chemistry, Restoration, State, Aquatic Ecosystems, Monitoring/Modeling, Wet Weather Flows, Ecological Monitoring, Terrestrial Ecosystems, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, eutrophication, monitoring, risk assessment, aquatic ecosystem, environmental restoration, bays, wetlands, estuaries, nutrient loading, watershed, coastal watershed, downstream effects, nutrients, precipitation monitoring, coastal zone, continuous monitoring, conservation, restoration strategies, aquatic degradation, recreational area, Massachusetts (MA), environmental stress, combined sewer overflows, coastal ecosystems, environmental indicators, ecosystem health, ecosystem restoration, nutrient monitoring , water quality, storm drainage, stormwater runoff, contaminated waterfronts, groundwater pollution

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2002 Progress Report
  • 2003 Progress Report
  • 2004 Progress Report
  • Final Report