On May 1st, the Conservation Commission gave their approval (with agreed upon conditions) for the demonstration project recommended by the Water Quality Management Committee (WQMC) to introduce 1.25 million oysters into Little Pond in June and another 1.25 million in July.
Oysters are known to be a natural means of filtering out both fecal coliform bacteria and nitrogen. They “feed on microalgae as they grow, and absorb the nitrogen that feeds the algae” (6)
In October, the first batch of oysters will be removed and distributed into healthy ponds and harbors in Falmouth for a period long enough for the nitrogen collected to flush out of the oysters’ systems, making them suitable for commercial harvesting. The second batch will remain indefinitely. Both batches are predicted to “remove an estimated 26% of the total seasonal load starting the second year of the program”(6).
The best descriptions of how this works are in the Enterprise articles 5) and 6) listed below and by watching the WQMC presentation to Conservation Committee on 4/17 http://www.fctv.org/ts/node/359
This project is intended to supplement the sewering of the Little Pond area (Question 1 on the Town Ballot on May 21). Both projects are deemed by the WQMC as needed to repair the most deteriorated estuary in town. Eventually, this should also support future aquaculture in Falmouth.
See Falmouth Enterprise articles:
1. 2/1/2013: “Up to Two Million Oysters Will Be Planted In Little Pond To Remove Nitrogen” by Brent Runyon
2. 2/15/2013: “Board Awards Contracts for Oyster Pond Study, Shellfish Propagation (Selectmen’s Meeting Notes)” by Christopher Kazarian
3. 3/15/2013: “Forum on Bourne’s, Little Pond Projects Will Invite Questions From Public”
4. 3/22/2013: “Little Pond Oyster Project Critiqued by Conservation Commission” by Michael C. Bailey
5. 4/26/2013: “The Science Behind The Little Pond Shellfish Project” by Michael C. Bailey
6. 5/3/1013: “Commission Signs Off On Demonstration Project” by Michael C. Bailey
See also: http://www.falmouthmass.us/deppage.php?number=282 for the April 8-10, 2013 Town Meeting, Warrant and minutes, page 21, Articles 24 and 25.
See also: www.fhmia.org home page article “FHMIA Board To Vote YES on Town Ballot Question #1 (posted 5/2/2013)”.