Thursday, March 30, 2017

Orleans moving ahead with exciting work on Nitrogen Removing Oysters

This article outlines the discussion around Orleans funding of a project on studying oysters as a tool for nitrogen removal. Despite discussion, the project was funded for another year. 

You can see the original article here.

Selectmen Digest Report On Nitrogen-Removing Oysters 22 March 2017

By: Ed Maroney

ORLEANS, MA — He who pays the piper should call the tune – even if it's the sewer piper. But some feel the piper – the regulators and consultants – are making the town dance instead.

Things aren't that simple, however.

In recent years, Orleans has explored alternatives to widespread sewering to meet nitrogen reduction goals for its waters. Among the alternatives outside of downtown have been low-tech and less expensive options such as oyster filtration. But the town is still hearing “prove it” from the state Department of Environmental Protection, and that proof comes at a cost.

At last week's board meeting, Selectman Mark Mathison voiced concern about the town's role as banker for experiments that may also benefit many other parties. He spoke March 15 after a presentation by AECOM environmental scientist Paula Winchell about results of the oyster pilot project in Lonnies Pond and its proposed second phase.

Winchell said testing of oysters from last year's experiment showed that 10.3 percent of dry tissue weight was nitrogen, a finding comparable to similar work done in Pleasant Bay. Almost 26 kilograms of nitrogen was removed via the oysters. The experiment deployed 200,000 oysters in 800 bags; about 127,000 were two-inch and the remainder one-inch.

The town's target for nitrogen reduction in Lonnies Pond is approximately 300 kilograms a year, and the total maximum daily load allowed is about 0.82 kilograms a day. The proposed second phase of the project would ramp things up with 3,000 bags holding 600 one-year oysters each and 4,500 bags with 250 two-year oysters each. There would be four one-acre “plot” floats of oysters: two over deeper water and softer bottom than last year's experiment, one in a location similar to last year's, and another over the same area used last year. This last would continue to add deposits to the bottom area where the initial study took a first look at denitrification.

Mathison asked if the town was committing significant money to an aquaculture project that would not provide solutions for all the town's ponds and that might not win the approval of state regulators.

“Why are we asking the taxpayers of Orleans to fund these scientific investigations?” he said. “They should be done in the research field.”

To Mathison's point that last year's study had confirmed what was already known – that oysters can aid in denitrification of ponds – the town's water quality consultant, Mike Domenica, said that the question is whether such a program can be managed over time so “DEP can bet on it.” More work is needed, he said, to determine whether the process is cost-effective per kilogram removed. “We can't put all the burden on one technology,” he cautioned.

Mathison called for more details on aquaculture plans. “What's the impact on moorings, boating, swimming?” he asked. “Not only do we need something demonstrated to DEP, but to the taxpayers of the town.”

“All of us,” Domenica said, “are aware of the elephant in the room, the long-term impact, the acceptability to abutters, growers” and marketing the grown shellfish. “This is what Year 2 will be,” he said, a look at those concerns.

“I think DEP should be paying for some of this,” Selectman Jon Fuller said. “Orleans is paying for everything.” Even so, he was reluctant not to proceed with Year 2 and lose the progress already made.

The board was to vote on releasing funds for further work in Lonnies Pond at its meeting last night, after the paper's deadline.

Monday, March 20, 2017

University Illinois Student Volunteers Enjoyed Oyster Restoration Work Most

This article by Jason Nevil originally appeared in the State-Journal Register. It illustrates how people enjoy being on the coast and engaging in environmental efforts like oyster restoration.

If her schedule allows, she wouldn't mind another alternative spring break next year, she said. "If I can, I definitely will," Bolin said.

Hailey Hawkins spent as much time around bleach as she did on a beach the past week while in Florida. But the University of Illinois Springfield junior has no complaints.
"It was definitely a very different spring break," Hawkins said Sunday. "But I had a lot of fun."
Hawkins was among 25 UIS students who traveled to Florida last week as part of the school's alternative spring break program.
The students helped with outdoor eco-restoration projects along the Florida panhandle Gulf Coast.
Past trips include building homes for Habitat for Humanity following Hurricane Katrina, cleaning up damage from Hurricane Ike in Texas and working with the homeless at soup kitchens in Washington, D.C., and New York City.
This year, the students assisted with shoreline restoration, native plant propagation, sea grass restoration, wildlife habitat improvement, dune restoration, storm water treatment, public land restoration and invasive species removal.
Hawkins said her favorite part of this year's trip was helping with an oyster-restoration project.
"It was cool because it was something that we couldn't possibly do in Illinois," she said.
But much of the work wasn't glamorous. Hawkins spent two days scrubbing the under side of a roof with bleach at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center in Freeport.
Other students, she said, spent one day on their hands and knees cleaning waste and other debris from a goose pond at a zoo.
"Your clothes were gross by the end of the day," she said.
Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center, said each student paid $150 and had to raise funds for the rest to go on the trip. Once in Florida, the group stayed at the Community Collaborations International campgrounds near DeFuniak Springs. The university picks places that offer a different experience than what students could get in Springfield, Dochterman said. "I think students bring back a different sense of purpose when they go and give freely to a place they have never been before," he said. UIS junior Regina Bolin also traveled to Florida last week. Bolin said her favorite part was being exposed to the variety of eco-restoration projects underway in Florida. The work this year was hard at times, but Bolin said it was enjoyable knowing that she and her classmates helped make a difference.

Work with Oysters in the Vacationland of Maine

Oyster farm attendant

The Farms of Muscongus Bay Aquaculture and Dodge Cove Marine Farm cultivate delicious American oysters, hard clams, and bay scallops in the beautiful, and renowned Damariscotta River of mid-coast Maine.

We are looking for enthusiastic, reliable, and level-headed individuals, with an excellent work ethic, to come join our lively crew with daily farm operations.

Duties may include, but not be limited to;
  • -       Dragging
  • -       Culling
  • -       Grading
  • -       Processing oysters for market
  • -       Monitoring condition of broodstock shellfish
  • -       Fixing and maintaining gear

Preferred abilities:
  • -       Solid and verifiable boat handling skills essential
  • -       Happy working as part of a team
  • -       Organized and diligent
  • -       Quick problem solving
  • -       Able to lift 50 lbs.
  • -       Able to work in adverse weather conditions
  • -       Positive attitude
  • -       A good representative of the companies
  • -       Must be able to work in the U.S., and have a valid U.S. driver’s license

Applicants should send questions and resume to