Algal bloom: A rapid overgrowth of algae caused by an excess of nutrients.

Benthic: Sediment or near sediment submerged environment.

Best Management Practice (BMP)
A method for preventing or reducing the pollution resulting from an activity. The term originated from rules and regulation in Section 208 of the Clean Water Act. Specific BMPs are defined for each pollution source.

Cape Cod Commission (CCC): A regional planning agency, formerly known as the Cape Cod Planning and Economic Development Commission (CCPEDC), which includes Buzzards Bay's eastern shore municipalities, Bourne, and Falmouth. As a result of legislative action and local approval, this agency has review authority over land-use decisions throughout Cape Cod. The CCC also provides technical assistance, coordinates inter-municipal activities, and serves as a depository for regional information.

Coastal Embayment: A semi-enclosed coastal water body with a restricted opening to a larger water body.

Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program: A federally funded and approved state program under the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972. The program reviews federal permitting, licensing, funding, and development activities in the coastal zone for consistency with state policies.

Contaminant:  A substance that is not naturally present in the environment or is present in unnatural concentrations that can, in sufficient concentration, adversely alter an environment. Federal regulations (40 CFR 230) for the discharge of dredged or fill material into navigable waters regulated by Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act define a contaminant as a chemical or biological substance in a form that can be incorporated into, onto, or be ingested by and that harms aquatic organisms, consumers of aquatic organisms, or users of the aquatic environment.

Critical Load: The amount of nitrogen an embayment can assimilate before the eutrophication processes occur.

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP): The state agency, formerly known as the Department of Environmental Quality Engineering, responsible for administering laws and regulations protecting air quality, water supply, and water resources, such as Chapter 91 and Title 5, and for administering programs such as the Wetlands Protection Program and Wetlands Restriction Program. It is also responsible for overseeing the cleanup of hazardous waste sites and responding to hazardous waste emergencies and accidents.

Dissolved Oxygen:  The concentration of oxygen in water.

Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF): The agency within the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs responsible for managing the Shellfish Sanitation Program, overseeing shellfish relays, depuration plants, commercial fishing licenses, and management and stock assessment of Massachusetts fisheries.

Ecosystem: A community of living organisms interacting with one another and with their physical environment, such as a salt marsh, an embayment, or an estuary. A system such as Buzzards Bay is considered a sum of these interconnected ecosystems.

Eelgrass (Zostera marina):  A submerged aquatic vegetation which provides habitat for fish and shellfish. In Buzzards Bay, eelgrass is widespread and grows to depths of 20 feet.

Embayments: A small bay or any small semi-enclosed coastal water body whose opening to a larger body of water is restricted.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The federal agency principally responsible for administering the Clean Water Act, National Estuary Program, CERCLA, Superfund, and other major federal environmental programs.

Estuary: A semi-enclosed coastal body of water having a free connection with the open sea and within which seawater is measurably diluted with fresh water.

Fecal Coliform: Bacteria that are present in the intestines of feces of warm-blooded animals and that are often used as indicators of the sanitary quality of water. Their degree of presence in water is expressed as the number of bacteria per 100 milliliters of the sample. The greater the number of fecal coliforms,  the higher the risk of exposure to human pathogens.

Groundwater: Water held in the pores of underground soil and sediments.

Habitat: The specific area or environment in which a particular type of plant or animal lives. An organism's habitat must provide all the basic requirements for survival.

Leaching Facility:  An approved structure used for the dispersion of septic-tank effluent into the soil. These include leaching pits, galleries, chambers, trenches, and fields as described in 310 CMR 15.11 through 15.15.

Massachusetts General Law Chapter 91: The Waterways Licensing Program governing waterfront development in Massachusetts, administered by the Department of Environmental Protection and the Office of Coastal Zone Management.

Massachusetts General Law Chapter 131, Section 40: The Wetlands Protection Act (WPA) administered by conservation commissions on the municipal level and by the Department of Environmental Protection on the state level.

Nitrogen Load: The amount of nitrogen entering an embayment from its watershed.

Nutrients: Essential chemicals needed by plants and animals for growth. Excessive amounts of nutrients, nitrogen, and phosphorus, for example, can lead to degradation of water quality and growth of excessive amounts of algae. Some nutrients can be toxic at high concentrations.

Pumpout: The process through which septage is removed from a septic tank or boat holding tank, usually by a mobile tank attached to a truck, and taken to a wastewater treatment plant for disposal.

Salt Marsh: A coastal wetland that extends landward up to the highest high tide line, that is, the highest spring tide of the year, and is characterized by plants that are well adapted to living in saline soils.

Septic System: A facility used for the partial treatment and disposal of sanitary wastewater, generated by individual homes or small business, into the ground.  Includes both a septic tank and a leaching facility.

Septic Tank: A watertight receptacle that receives the discharge of sewage from a building sewer and is designed and constructed so as to permit the retention of scum and sludge, digestion of the organic matter, and discharge of the liquid portion to a leaching facility.

Shellfish Bed: An area identified and designated by the Division of Marine Fisheries or conservation commissions as containing productive shellfish resource. Shellfish bed maps are based upon written documentation and field observations by the shellfish constable or other authoritative sources. In identifying such an area, the following factors shall be taken into account and documented: the density of all species of shellfish, the size of the area and the historical and current importance of the area to recreational or commercial shellfishing. Protecting designated shellfish beds may be an important consideration when local boards and state agencies review projects.

Title 5: The state regulations (CMR 15) that provide for minimum standards for the protection of public health and the environment when circumstances require the use of individual systems for the disposal of sanitary sewage. The local board of health is responsible for enforcement of these regulations and may upgrade them.

Total Nitrogen: A measure of all forms of nitrogen (for example, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia-N, and organic forms) that are found in a water sample.

Toxic: Poisonous, carcinogenic, or otherwise directly harmful to life.

Wastewater: Water that has come into contact with pollutants as a result of human activities and is not used in a product, but discharged as a waste stream.

Watershed: The land area contributing freshwater to an embayment.

Wetlands: Habitats where the influence of surface water or groundwater has resulted in the development of plant or animal communities adapted to aquatic or intermittently wet conditions. Wetlands include tidal flats, shallow subtidal areas, swamps, marshes, wet meadows, bogs, and similar areas.