Buzzards Bay Coalition awarded the Environmental Merit Award by the Environmental Protection Agency

The Buzzards Bay Coalition’s long-standing Baywatchers water quality monitoring program has been awarded an Environmental Merit Award — the highest honor from the New England Region of the Environmental Protection Agency.

a woman testing the water in New Bedford Harbor

Baywatchers like Jessamyn Finneran test water samples at over 200 sites around Buzzards Bay every summer.

Awarded by the EPA since 1970, the Environmental Merit Awards honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts to preserve the region’s environment. This year’s competition drew nearly 100 nominations from across New England.

For over 20 years, the Baywatchers volunteer water quality monitoring program has mobilized over 750 Buzzards Bay citizens to monitor the health the Bay at over 200 stations around the region — an effort that has measured 43,681 dissolved oxygen and 11,170 nutrient samples over the last two decades.  As the largest coastal monitoring effort in Massachusetts, Baywatchers monitor more than a quarter of the state’s coastline.

It is a regional program with volunteers throughout Bay communities:

The citizen-based Baywatchers monitoring program was initiated in 1992 to evaluate nitrogen-related water quality and long-term ecological trends in embayment health and encourage local citizens to be active stewards of their environment. Water testing has been performed every five days in the summer for 20 consecutive years by highly trained citizen volunteers who are coordinated, trained, and motivated by Tony Williams, Director of Monitoring Programs.

“The best part of this program is working with this incredible group of volunteers who want to understand the health of their harbor and cove what they can do to improve it,” said Williams. “This award recognizes that all of their hard work really helps to restore clean water in Buzzards Bay.”

The Bay Health data collected by the program forms the foundation of the Coalition’s work to protect and restore the health of the Bay. It is also used by other organizations and agencies to create restoration or protection plans for the Bay and its tributaries.

This summer, the Baywatchers program is entering its 21st year, and new Baywatchers are always welcome! To learn more, contact Tony Williams or fill out a volunteer application online.

Read the EPA’s press release on the Environmental Merit Awards.

Category: On the Bay

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Working to Save Buzzards Bay

The Buzzards Bay Coalition is a membership-supported organization dedicated to improving the health of the Buzzards Bay ecosystem for all through education, conservation, research, and advocacy.

We work to protect clean water on the Bay and on the land: