Westport River Impacted by Nitrogen

Westport River, west branch. Photo/New England Boating
Westport River, west branch. Photo/New England Boating

ecoRI.org: The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will hold a public meeting June 23 seeking comments on a draft document identifying the need to limit and reduce nitrogen pollution in the coastal waters of the Westport River estuarine system. The meeting will be held from 4-5 p.m. in the Town Hall Annex meeting room, 856 Main Road.

The segments of the Westport River involved include: East Branch, West Branch, The Let, Westport River Harbor, Old County Road, Kirby Brook, Adamsville Brook, Angeline Creek and Snell Creek. The restoration plan for the estuary system, formulated by DEP and the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology, is proposed as part of a multiyear collaborative project intended to improve estuarine water quality in up to 70 embayments along the southeastern Massachusetts coastline.

The 2 coastal waterbodies — East and West branches of the Westport River — with watersheds in Westport, Dartmouth, Freetown and Fall River, as well as Tiverton and Little Compton, R.I., are currently impaired by excess nutrients, mainly nitrogen. Nitrogen is the primary cause of eutrophication that 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 the waterways of Buzzards Bay.

The plan includes seven “pollution prevention” Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) designations in water bodies that are hydraulically linked to impaired waters to maintain existing high-quality waters.

Read more about how nitrogen pollution is affecting the Westport River estuary.