Buzzards Bay Lecture Series to Focus in Water-Quality Solutions

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The Buzzards Bay Coalition and the New Bedford Whaling Museum have partnered to present the second year of “Where the Land Meets the Sea: Working to Restore and Maintain the Health of the Buzzards Bay Watershed.” The 3-part, public lecture series will inform and create discussion among those who live within or near the Buzzards Bay Watershed.

The Wednesday evening lecture series featuring presentations by experts in the field of conservation kicks-off at the Whaling Museum on Wednesday, March 30. Each evening begins with a 6:00 p.m. reception, followed by a 6:30 p.m. lecture and discussion.

The Wednesday, March 30 lecture is titled “Restoring Water Quality,” and will feature the following presentations:

·         Rachael Miller, Co-founder and Executive Director, The Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean

The staff of the Rozalia Project, in response to trash in our oceans, has developed creative tools for separating debris from seawater and organic material. Rachael Miller will discuss the Project’s surface-to-seafloor clean-up from Narragansett Bay to the Gulf of Maine, and the technologies in use: remotely-operated vehicles for locating and cleaning debris on harbor floors, an invention called a “Baleen Basker” for filtering trash from organic matter on the surface, and drones for locating debris and rubbish-strewn beaches.

·         George Heufelder, Director, Barnstable County Dept. of Health & Environment

The country’s largest center for testing alternatives to the old-fashioned septic system is located in Barnstable, and since 1999 its staff has been “looking for better mousetraps for treating wastewater” originating in the home. George Heufelder will provide an overview of new methods that can reduce contaminants, notably nitrogen, by up to 50%. Among them: new tank designs, experimental leaching fields, composting toilets, and systems that separate gray and black water.

The second lecture will take place on Wednesday, April 6, and is titled “Restoring Rivers – Hello Fish!” and will feature the following presentations:

·         Sara N. da Silva Quintal, Restoration Ecologist, Buzzards Bay Coalition

Sara da Silva Quintal will discuss the Coalition’s restoration of the Weweantic River, the largest river emptying into Buzzards Bay. For decades, the Horseshoe Mill Dam has blocked the passage of migrating fish, but removing this barrier bodes well for restoring the historic passage of herring, rainbow smelt, perch, tomcod, and others. Quintal also will provide updates on the Acushnet River restoration project, where dam removal has led to a dramatic increase in river herring, and attention to the riverbank and native species have transformed an industrial eyesore into a nature park.

·         David Gould, Director, Town of Plymouth Dept. of Marine & Environmental Affairs

For 14 years, David Gould and his staff have been working to improve the health of Town Brook, the original source of fresh water for the Pilgrims. This is a quintessential story of a river long mistreated and neglected, and the careful studied steps—removal of several dams, land acquisition, storm-water and water-quality improvements, among them—that have opened the way for river herring to once more reach their spawning grounds in Billington Sea.

The last lecture will take place on Wednesday, April 13, and is titled “The Health of New Bedford Harbor – Then & Now”, and will feature the following presentations:

·         Michael Dyer, Maritime Historian, New Bedford Whaling Museum

Michael Dyer will look back in time to when the Harbor underwent a shift from a seaport devoted to maritime trade to one serving as a delivery system for industrial manufacturing. The start of the rail into New Bedford (1842) and the rise of the textile and other manufacturing industries, which depended on steam engines fed by coal, resulted in a harbor that, by the early 20th century, was beleaguered by over-industrialization. Water quality degraded, and industrial waste contaminated the shoreline. Dyer will chronicle the Harbor’s evolution through photographs, paintings and prints.

·         Mark Rasmussen, President, Buzzards Bay Coalition

Mark Rasmussem will review the Harbor’s recent history and reasons why its estuary has the dubious distinction within New England of not allowing fishing.  He will provide an update about the Harbor’s various sources of pollution as well as encouraging projects underway to restore lost wetlands and mitigate nitrogen pollution from the Fairhaven wastewater treatment plant and oil spills from commercial vessels. Rasmussen will also address why the Harbor remains off-limits to fin and shellfishing, and whether that might change anytime soon.

Registration is free for students from UMass-Dartmouth and Bristol Community College, $5 per lecture for members of the Buzzards Bay Coalition or New Bedford Whaling Museum. Non-Members are $10 per lecture. All lectures take place at the Whaling Museum. To register, call (508) 997-0046 ext. 100 or CLICK HERE