2022 2022: SMAST Coastal Systems Program Update
SMAST Coastal Systems Program Update

Program's mission to continue after the passing of Professor Brian Howes

The Coastal Systems Program (CSP) at SMAST announced that their goal and mission remain unchanged following the passing of their colleague, Professor Brian Howes. The CSP is the logistical, educational, and data synthesis center for water quality monitoring throughout southeastern Massachusetts and is committed to maintaining operational and analytical support for all the region's towns. Howes, the Director of the Program, passed away on December 13, 2022.

"While our campus community is still in shock and grieving, UMass Dartmouth and CSP staff remain committed to the mission, to the work that Dr. Howes led for more than 40 years, and to the communities that rely on CSP and the University for trusted scientific guidance in their decision-making," said Ramprasad Balasubramanian, Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation.

UMass Dartmouth and the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) research faculty, staff scientists, and research support personnel, supplemented on a project basis by scientists from academic and research institutions throughout the U.S., will continue CSP's work to investigate and develop innovative solutions to complex environmental restoration and management issues within coastal watersheds and coastal receiving waters of the region.

CSP's development of water quality monitoring programs has led to the creation of numerous citizen-based and municipal freshwater pond and lake water sampling programs, including the Cape Cod Pond and Lake Stewards and Plymouth Pond and Lake Stewards programs. City and towns have used data from these programs to prioritize pond and lake assessments and devise more than 20 management plans, with several more scheduled in 2023. The CSP lab annually processes more than 30,000 water quality samples in support of regular monitoring programs for ponds, lakes, estuaries, streams, and rivers.

One of the CSP's most significant initiatives during the past 20 years is the Massachusetts Estuaries Project (MEP), the largest estuarine restoration program in New England. The MEP is built on a broad range of citizen-based and municipal estuarine and freshwater pond-related projects, encompassing water sampling programs in almost every town in southeastern Massachusetts. The MEP produced assessments of more than 70 ecosystems around Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod Bay, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket. These assessments were the basis for over 128 nitrogen TMDLs proposed by MassDEP and approved by USEPA.

The Coastal Systems Program team, with the technical talent involved in the MEP from outside the university, will continue to support the towns of southeastern Massachusetts as they move forward with their coastal restoration efforts.