National Panel Issues Final Peer Review of Massachusetts Estuaries Project Science

Report by national experts endorses model used by UMass Dartmouth School of Marine Science and Technology team

A national panel of experts has released its final report on the UMass Dartmouth School of Marine Science and Technology-based science that underpins the Massachusetts Estuaries Project. The report strongly endorses the science as "scientifically credible" and "appropriate and useful for evaluating alternative scenarios and informing nutrient management plans, and is consistent with existing nationwide" practices.

This endorsement will allow the SMAST team to concentrate on key studies designed to inform
wastewater treatment planning on Cape Cod, the SouthCoast and South Shore, according to Project Director Brian Howes.

"We continue to bat a thousand on scientific reviews of our work,'' said Dr. Howes, director of the Coastal Systems Group at the UMass Dartmouth School of Marine Science and Technology. "With this endorsement of our science - following a 10-week comprehensive review by independent national experts - our faculty, staff, students, and partners look forward to providing the knowledge needed for coastal communities to make wise decisions about their future. The health of our coastline is at a tipping point after a half century of decline, and it is critical that we reverse the trend now. We are proud that our independent science and the energy of our faculty, staff and student are being deployed to confront this challenge.''

The review was organized and sponsored by the Cape Cod Water Protection Collaborative and Barnstable County.

The Massachusetts Estuaries Project is a partnership between UMass Dartmouth, the Department of Environmental Protection, Cape Cod Commission, Martha's Vineyard Commission and communities throughout southeastern Massachusetts. Since 2002, the MEP has completed assessment and modeling of more than 60 estuaries.

Since June 1, SMAST has delivered the following draft reports to the Department of Environmental Protection, which are currently under review and will be released for public comment over the next several months:

Westport River (Westport)
Nauset Estuary (Orleans, Eastham)
Waquoit Bay (Falmouth/Mashpee)
Eel River (Falmouth/Mashpee)
Rands Harbor (Falmouth)
Fiddler's Cove (Falmouth)
Falmouth Harbor (Falmouth)
Quissett Harbor (Falmouth)
Wild Harbor (Falmouth/Bourne)
Swan Pond River (Dennis)

In addition, SMAST modeling experts assisted the communities of Nantucket, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Dennis and Falmouth in their ongoing planning efforts related to previously received studies. In these cases, the scientists are able to help the communities predict the impacts of potential environmental management options.

The SMAST team has also worked diligently with Dartmouth and Westport officials over the past year to improve land use data needed for sound planning, and has been working with Dartmouth to complete a management/restoration plan for Allen's Pond.

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