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2300 Days at Sea: Monitoring the Impacts of the Outfall on Massachusetts Bay

Aerial photograph of Castle Island and Massachusetts Bay with many boats and tall ships

April 2019 Executive Summary of November 2018 Workshop | Atlantic Wharf, Boston, Massachusetts

Executive Summary of the Outfall Monitoring Science Advisory Panel Workshop 

Full Workshop Transcript

Prepared by Judith Pederson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sea Grant College Program and Interim Chair of the Outfall Monitoring Science Advisory Panel, with assistance from Robert Kenney, retired University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, Matt Liebman, EPA region I, and Cathy Vakalopoulos, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, April 22, 2019.


On Tuesday, November 13, 2018, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and the Outfall Monitoring Science Advisory Panel (OMSAP), the Public Interest Advisory Committee (PIAC), Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the MIT Sea Grant College Program hosted a panel workshop, 2300 Days at Sea: Monitoring the Impacts of the Massachusetts Bay Outfall, chaired by Dr. Judith Pederson of MIT Sea Grant.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) was required to conduct a monitoring program to assess whether moving the outfall discharge from Boston Harbor to Massachusetts Bay would not adversely affect the environment. The workshop brought together scientists, advocates, policy makers, academics, and citizens to review nearly 30 years of ambient monitoring at the Massachusetts Bay outfall pipe and begin to identify emerging issues and discuss what a future monitoring program should look like.

The Executive Summary document above summarizes the presentations from speakers and input from stakeholders. At the workshop, Dr. Betsy Reilly (Director of Environmental Quality, Water and Wastewater, MWRA) gave an update on the 33 questions included in the original monitoring plan and the results to date. Dr. Mark Smith (Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection) spoke about emerging contaminants. Dr. Juliet Simpson (MIT Sea Grant) spoke about climate change and the impacts on the ocean. Dr. Michael Connor (former Director, Environmental Quality Department, MWRA; General Manager of the East Bay Dischargers Authority in San Francisco) gave the keynote address at the conference on best practices in regional monitoring programs. Attendees dived into each of these topics in breakout groups, discussing what questions have been asked and answered through monitoring to date, how the warmer, deeper, more stormy ocean of the future will impact what monitoring is needed, and how to address concerns regarding emerging contaminants including micro-plastics and pharmaceuticals.