Senator O’Leary Confirms Standoff Over Key Study

A continuing contractual dispute between the state Department of Environmental Protection and the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth is delaying efforts to clean coastal waters all over the Cape and Islands, and must be solved quickly, state Sen. Robert O’Leary said yesterday.

The 11-month standoff has left towns without important data, compiled under the Massachusetts Estuaries Project, documenting the health and particularly the nutrient loading of their estuaries, bays and ponds. The information is needed for remediation and planning.

Study Traces Sengekontacket’s Troubles

A draft report of the long-awaited Massachusetts Estuaries Project study of Sengekontacket Pond sketches a profile of a coastal pond that is at once troubling and hopeful.

Although the vast pond that spans the towns of Oak Bluffs and Edgartown has undergone significant ecological changes with increased development in the past half century, including a drastic decline in eelgrass beds, specific steps could be taken that would restore the pond to nearly its original state, the report finds.

Nitrogen Tips Pond’s Delicate Balance

Farm Pond, the 42-acre great salt pond that hugs the edge of the Harthaven section of Oak Bluffs along Beach Road, is ailing and at risk due to too much nitrogen, a draft study for the ongoing Massachusetts Estuaries Project concludes.

The draft report, which is now circulating among town leaders and water quality planners, also finds that rehabilitation of the pond is easily within reach and could be largely accomplished by significantly widening the culvert that allows tidal exchange between the pond and Nantucket Sound.

Estuaries Study Finds Lagoon Pond Significantly Impaired

The final Massachusetts Estuaries Project report on the health of Lagoon Pond was unveiled this week in Oak Bluffs, and the blunt diagnosis was summed up in two words: “significantly impaired.”

Dr. Brian Howes, technical director for the project, a joint venture of the state Department of Environmental Protection and the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, said that almost all of the 89 estuaries in southeastern Massachusetts are impaired. Lagoon Pond is no exception.

Chilmark Selectmen Wonder, Is Estuaries Study Worth It?

Chilmark selectman sharply criticized the Massachusetts Estuaries Project this week, questioning both the necessity of the project and the significance of the results, at least for their town.

Trouble in Lagoon Pond Adds Urgency to Recovery Efforts

Lagoon Pond is in trouble. Island residents heard a familiar story on Wednesday from representatives of the Massachusetts Estuaries Project about another degraded coastal pond on the Island, but town officials say that they are determined to find a solution.

Schlossberg Donation Clears Way for Estuaries Project

The Aquinnah selectmen voted this week to accept a private donation to help underwrite the town’s participation in the Massachusetts Estuaries Project study of Menemsha and Squibnocket Ponds. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg will contribute up to $15,000 to help pay for the town’s share of the project.

News Update: Wednesday, April 25 - Chilmark Voters Say Yes to Pond Study, No to Roundabout

The Menemsha Pond system and Chilmark Pond are now eligible to participate in the Massachusetts Estuaries Project after voters approved a Proposition 2 and a half override for the project at the annual town election on Wednesday.

The vote was 192 to 56 for the Menemsha ponds, and 179 to 69 for Chilmark Pond.

Ponds Health, Budget Hike Top Chilmark Warrant

A sharp increase in the annual town operating budget and the question, both financial and philosophical, of whether to continue participation in the Massachusetts Estuaries Project are the key issues that will come before Chilmark voters at their annual town meeting Monday night.

The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Chilmark Community Center; longtime moderator Everett Poole will preside over the 22-article warrant. The annual town election is Wednesday.