Barnstable Clean Water Coalition (BCWC) has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and The Nature Conservancy on a new, woodchip-based Bioreactor Nitrogen Reduction Pilot Project at the head of the Marstons Mills River. These bogs act as a collection system for the thousands of septic systems surrounding the upper reaches of the Three Bays watershed.
The bioreactor will help remove nutrients like nitrogen from the bogs before they reach the river and the bays beyond. Nitrogen overload is responsible for the cyanobacteria blooms that have kept so many from their favorite ponds this summer, and is a major part of Cape Cod’s ongoing water quality issue.
“As the average Cape Codder probably knows, we have a massive water quality problem, and there’s a big price tag on fixing it,” said Casey Dannhauser, BCWC’s Special Projects Manager. “So if this works, we can implement this not only in all the other ditches of this cranberry bog, but in cranberry bogs across Cape Cod, and hopefully help lower that price tag.”
On July 28, BCWC led a team that included the EPA, TNC, Mount Holyoke College and BCWC staff and volunteers, to install a bioreactor in the cranberry bogs at the headwaters of the Marston Mills River. The bioreactor is comprised of natural elements including wood chips, biochar, and alum, that work to filter nutrients from the water, along with several water testing wells and sampling ports to test for chemicals like nitrogen, arsenic and sulfides.
“We are really excited to be taking the first steps on this project, and to be working with our partners from the US EPA and The Nature Conservancy to work on a restoration accelerator, and return the cranberry bogs to natural wetlands,” said BCWC Executive Director Zenas Crocker. “Those conditions alone will be a catalyst to really help the environment remove nutrients like nitrogen naturally.”
Barnstable Clean Water Coalition is a nonprofit founded in 1996, dedicated to restoring and preserving clean water in Barnstable. BCWC uses science as its foundation to monitor, educate, advocate and mitigate for clean water throughout the Cape Cod town of Barnstable.