Friday, April 1, 2011

Falmouth Exploring Oyster Aquaculture to Ease Water Quality Issues

MOP has recently learned of an interesting oyster related project in Falmouth Massachusetts. The town has several densely populated peninsulas that are surrounded by sea water. Most of the homes on those peninsulas use septic systems and the filtered waste eventually reaches the ocean raising nitrogen levels.

High nitrogen levels lead to bacterial growth that consumes oxygen while choking off the light from oxygen producing plants.  The result can be an anoxic, barren sea-bottom that is devoid of life.
This map is from a terrific paper on the area published by Joel Creswell et al. in 2001 You can visit that paper by clicking on the scientific paper link.

Falmouth has a number of advantages. First the pollution is nitrogen not bacterial, so they do not have e.coli and other bacteria that would make oysters farmed in that location inedible. Second, they are in a region that has an oyster industry and expertise.

The plan is to begin farming oysters that incorporate nitrogen into their shells to improve the water quality. The sequestered nitrogen would be removed when the oysters are taken to market. One nice feature of this plan is that the oysters are most active in the warm summer months when homes are most likely to be occupied and producing nitrogen.

The third attractive aspect is that it brings people out on the water.  Bays are like parks, they are more fun to be on if there are others around. Few people like empty parks and city planners know that the way to make them safer is to get people to use them.

This fact is not lost on architects who include people in renderings to make them more attractive to the viewer. If asked for a preference, people will always favor the rendering that includes people, even if the building is less attractive. 

The final feature is that a successful program could obviate the need for an expensive sewer line infrastructure.  

One player in this effort is the Coonamessett Farm Foundation who is helping to coordinate the process. And the process will not be simple with involvement of the Army Corps of Engineers, Coastal Zone management, The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, the town government and the abutters.  

No comments:

Post a Comment