February 7, 2017 — Why spend millions of dollars if you don’t have to?
Mashpee is turning to one of the oldest wastewater cleanup technologies on earth – the nitrogen removal systems in oysters and clams – to reduce the cost of federally mandated wastewater cleanup. Orleans, Falmouth, Barnstable, Dennis, Yarmouth, Wellfleet and Edgartown are also either using or considering shellfish for water quality improvement.
But, until recently, towns had to use estimates of how much nitrogen the bivalves actually removed from the water. Now, a study released last month in the online journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, is providing more specific information on the effectiveness of the shellfish-based strategy. As part of the study, Barnstable County, Woods Hole Sea Grant, and University of Massachusetts School of Marine Science and Technology researchers gathered both farmed and wild shellfish from around the Cape and analyzed shells and meats to determine how much nitrogen each contained.
“The study was really done to help local municipalities who are approaching this idea that shellfish might be used for remediation,” said Woods Hole Sea Grant agent Joshua Reitsma, the study’s lead author. “It provides values for that where people were using data from elsewhere, like the Chesapeake.”