Cuttyhunk West End Pond reconnected to Buzzards Bay

It’s not often that you see an excavator perched at the very edge of Buzzards Bay, digging away at the sand. But that was exactly the scene recently on Cuttyhunk, when a crew finally reopened an inlet that once again connected West End Pond with the Bay.

an inlet connects Cuttyhunk West End Pond with Buzzards Bay

As soon as the excavator broke through, a plume of stagnant pond water rushed out from the inlet into Buzzards Bay.

West End Pond is a large, salty pool located on the western end of Cuttyhunk. It’s separated from Buzzards Bay by a narrow strip of sand and rocks. A small inlet used to let water from the Bay flow in and out of the pond, keeping the water clear and well-mixed.

In the early 1990s, when Hurricane Bob tore across southeastern Massachusetts, the inlet moved and started to close up. By the time Superstorm Sandy hit the region in 2012, the inlet had closed completely.

West End Pond began to suffer. Nitrogen pollution built up in the pond, leading to algae blooms that choked fish and shellfish. In the summer of 2012, West End Pond recorded its lowest Bay Health score ever, indicating that conditions were too poor to support abundant life.

The town of Gosnold, which includes Cuttyhunk, turned to the Coalition for help to reopen the inlet and save West End Pond. Working together with state and federal authorities, the Coalition and local supporters were able to secure the permits needed to get the inlet cleared.

On the day West End Pond was reconnected with Buzzards Bay, Coalition staff aboard the R/V Baykeeper® watched as an excavator broke through the sandy, rocky barrier. For the first time in over five years, pond water began flowing into the Bay.

Through our Baywatchers monitoring program, we’ll be keeping an eye on West End Pond to make sure it – and all of Buzzards Bay’s coves, rivers, and harbors – returns to good health.

Category: On the Bay

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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.

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