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    Tuesday, December 4, 2012


    PCCS Contacts:

    Amy Costa, PhD: Director, Cape Cos Bay Monitoring Program - - 508-487-3623 ext. 122,
    Pat Hughes: Director, Marine Policy - - 508-487-3623, ext. 121

    Provincetown scientists release multi-year analysis of water quality in Cape Cod Bay

    Marc Costa of the Cape Cod Bay Water Monitoring Program
    retrieves samples in Cape Cod Bay.
    PCCS image.

    Researchers in the Cape Cod Bay Monitoring Program  (CCBMP) at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) have announced the release of the  technical report "How is Our Bay? Five Years of Environmental Monitoring of Cape Cod Bay."

    "How is Our Bay?" presents the results of analyses of five years of data on water quality collected at 54 stations throughout the Cape Cod Bay; four years of eelgrass habitat studies at five locations; four years of monitoring in five harbors for the presence of marine invasive species; and a summary of a preliminary assessment for the presence of four pharmaceutical compounds at five sampling locations.

    Cape Cod Bay supports rich and varied marine and coastal ecosystems that include habitat for endangered marine mammals and birds. It also supports the region's economy, with commercial and recreational fishing and coastal tourism generating close to, if not more than, $2 billion a year in direct and indirect revenues.  These activities are dependent on good water quality and the protection of coastal and marine habitats.

    Threats to the Bay's quality and habitats come primarily from human activities in the Bay's watershed, such as increased development and population.  Between 1960 and 2010 there was a 48% increase in residential development in Plymouth County alone. Barnstable County experienced a 45% increase in year-round residents during that same time period.

    "How we live in the watershed directly affects Cape Cod Bay, as the groundwater and waters from the region's rivers and streams carry wastewater, stormwater and other pollutants to the Bay," said Pat Hughes, Director of Marine Policy at PCCS. "The interconnection between the watershed and Cape Cod Bay calls attention to the importance of monitoring environmental conditions throughout the Bay." 

    Overall, the results of the Cape Cod Bay Monitoring Project are mixed:

    * Water quality has improved at 55% of the stations monitored, declined at 40% of stations, and stayed the same at 6%. Overall, there is a pattern of deteriorating conditions each year in the summer months in the inshore and nearshore, where Cape Cod residents and visitors  alike swim, boat, fish and shellfish.
    * Eelgrass, the aquatic plant that provides valuable habitat for juvenile fish and shellfish, also exhibits variations in the health and growth of beds throughout the Bay, reflecting the degrees of disturbance and pollution in the test areas. An increase in certain invasive plants and algae are also having a negative impact on the health and distribution of eelgrass habitat.
    *Pharmaceutical compounds were detected at four of five sites sampled in 2010

    "As towns around the Bay take steps to reduce pollution levels in groundwater, wastewater and storm-water, the results of the Cape Cod Bay Monitoring Program  can be used, along with other data, to assess the success of these actions," explained Amy Costa, PhD, Director of the CCBMP. "Continuing to monitor the health of Cape Cod Bay will provide vital data that can be used to guide management decisions and to strengthen environmental policies of local, regional and state governments."

    The CCBMP just completed its seventh field season and these data and an analysis of all the data from 2006-2012 will be available next spring.

    For more information about the Cape Cod Bay Monitoring Program please contact CCBMP Director Amy Costa (acosta@coastalstudies.org508-487-3623 ext. 122) or Marine Policy Director Pat Hughes (; 508-487-3623, ext. 121).

    The report can be viewed and downloaded at:





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