Ahead of upcoming holiday weekend, a warning of mounting pollution pressure on Buzzards Bay

Actor Sam Waterston

Credit: Photo by Erik Pendzich

In a newly released video from the Buzzards Bay Coalition, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Sam Waterston warns residents of southeastern Massachusetts that nitrogen pollution from septic systems continues to put serious stress on the Bay’s ecosystem. The video also explains what residents and communities can do to tackle the problem.

In the video, which can be found on the Coalition’s YouTube channel, Waterston explains that in the case of the Bay and nitrogen, “Too much of a good thing is a bad thing,” and that there are actions homeowners can take to mitigate its impact. Nitrogen naturally occurs in the Bay and other waterways, but when overly abundant, it fuels the growth of algae – algae that robs fish, shellfish, eelgrass, and other marine life of the oxygen needed to survive.  The culprit behind all of this – wastewater from septic systems making its way into the groundwater and, ultimately, the Bay.

Mark Rasmussen, president of the Coalition, shared his own perspective ahead of the video’s release, “I remember as a kid being reminded to take it easy with toilet flushing  around a big summer weekend – like the 4th – when the house was full. This is one of the best times to be enjoying the beauty of the Bay, and we really encourage everyone to do that, but we also want people to be aware of the impacts that a growing Bay area population living on septic systems are having on its health.”

More than 50,000 homes in the Bay’s watershed are on Title V septic systems, which do nothing to remove nitrogen levels. According to the video, solutions include more homes hooking up to municipal sewer, and where that’s not an option, for homeowners to upgrade their septic system to one that’s purpose-built to reduce nitrogen.  Connecting more homes in our area to modern, municipal wastewater treatment systems, or sewer plants, is the best way to cleanup Bay water quality.

“We’re so grateful that Sam contributed his time and talent to help us spread the word about this important issue. We know that people want to be better stewards of our local environment, and the goal of this video is to give them more information on what that might look like,” noted Rasmussen.

The video was edited by Westport-native Chloe Mangold, a film and television producer now working in California. Both Chloe and Sam donated their time to this video project.

Categories: On the Bay, On the Land

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: