Editors, Vineyard Gazette;

According to the Massachusetts Estuaries Project’s 2017 TMDL survey, stormwater accounts for eight per cent of the controllable nitrogen loading in Tashmoo. In coming weeks, Tisbury will install a multi-baffled basin at Grove avenue beach, fully funded by the EPA. The prior significant stormwater project was a rain garden bioswale on Owen Little Way. Neither of these nitrogen-loading mitigation projects are in either the threatened Tashmoo or Lagoon pond watersheds.

Some of Tisbury’s long-term efforts confronting nitrogen loading from wastewater are shown in its pilot program to install nine experimental NitROE® systems with state grants at minimal cost to homeowners. The locations were selected by the town, yet not all went to year-round homes and the TMDL report says [what’s] “important is the density of homes. Larger home density means more nitrogen being discharged thus the density typically determines where to sewer (i.e. nitrogen mitigation) to maximize reductions.”

And in order to afford the school renovation, Tisbury needs to focus its resources on projects/locations that give us the most bang for the buck. Stormwater projects should be inside the watersheds and subsidized NitROE® systems allocated to the heaviest users (i.e. year-round homes.)

As a hearing on an anchoring moratorium is being presented as the first step in a comprehensive watershed management plan, the process illustrates why Tisbury’s public policy making is so inefficient. This has been on the select board agenda twice but the waterways committee is presenting its recommendation for the first time during the public hearing. The six-year awaited, long-needed management plan is also being crammed into the same meeting — that on top of any other town business or warrants that need to be discussed.

Despite the restricted anchorage zones and scallop-dragging ban enacted in 2017, the recent DMF Eelgrass survey found “limited change in the overall extent of the eelgrass meadow between 2013 and 2021.”

Eelgrass habitat is not an anchored boaters issue; it’s a pretext. The TMDL reads “eelgrass will not return until the water quality conditions improve.” In the six years since its publication the town has never meaningfully dealt with fertilizer or stormwater in Tashmoo. Half of the golf course is in the watershed; boaters aren’t the issue.

If you want to fix the issue of overuse on the weekends during the summer, do it the old Vineyard way; cheap, well-planned and executed. To rid Tashmoo of boaters on the weekends or during the summer, ban anchoring during the weekends or in July and August. Most of us are too busy then to get out there anyway. The town doesn’t need to drive expensive pilings into Tashmoo or install moorings and monetize them to fix this “problem;” they’ll just be creating bigger ones.

Here’s a proposal: keep the existing southern anchor yard, and by the clam flats designate a small speck of sand 100 yards away from any eelgrass for public use from September to June. This will cost nothing and satisfy everyone.

MacAleer Schilcher