UMass Dartmouth Awarded $524K from EPA to Study Oyster Colonies

Researchers at UMass Dartmouth, a NEC member, received over half a million dollars in funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study the effect of oyster colonies on lowering nitrogen levels in estuaries and salt pools.

The funds are part of a larger $4.6 million initiative by the EPA focused on coastal watersheds in southeast Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The UMass Dartmouth project will study the effects that oyster colonies could have on nitrogen levels in the Westport River. High levels of nitrogen have plagued southeastern New England’s estuaries and waterways. If researchers can find a link between oysters and lower nitrogen levels, then it might lead to a low-cost solution for the region.

“Addressing the nitrogen problem along the South Coast, Cape Cod and the South Shore will cost billions of dollars if we only consider traditional strategies such as bigger wastewater treatment plants and more sewer lines,” Dr. Brian Howes of UMass Dartmouth said. “We just don’t have the time or money for that course. It is, therefore, imperative that we find soft solutions that leverage nature, in this case the oyster, to make progress.”

The New England Council applauds UMass Dartmouth for working to find cost-effective solutions for Southeastern New England’s watersheds. Read more in the press releases from the EPA and UMass Dartmouth.

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