Bass River at Risk

If you’ve ever found yourself sitting in traffic on Route 28 on a rainy summer day, you don’t need a statistician to tell you that the towns of Yarmouth and Dennis have been among the fastest growing towns in the Commonwealth. The year-round population of the combined towns has swelled from less than 2,000 in 1930 to a close to 40,000 in 2010. Factor in the explosion of summer visitors and lack of a centralized wastewater treatment system and it is apparent that Bass River and its watershed are being pushed to their limits.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s water quality samples taken on Bass River did not meet the minimum guidelines of The Federal Clean Water Act. This prompted the Massachusetts Division of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to evaluate water quality at the watershed level. The 2004-2008 findings showed Bass River water quality was, in fact, impaired.


 Bass River was then added to the Massachusetts Estuaries Project (MEP) as an estuary at high risk. The 2011 MEP report delved even deeper into the health of the river to specifically determine its nitrogen level and sources of its critical nitrogen loading. 

In November of 2016 a draft recommendation was released outlining the TDML (Total Daily Maximum Load) of Nitrogen that the river could handle. The findings were startling. A 47% reduction in nitrogen was necessary. It became abundantly clear that we could no longer take the health of the river for granted. 

Not wanting to wait on the sidelines, Friends of Bass River are actively seeking to educate and effect change to help save the river that is so important to us all.