In and Around Our Three Waterways

Water Sampling – Conducted first water sampling to test for contaminants throughout the summer in 1988, a critical and continued undertaking to safeguard our waters. Before the State mandated Boards of Health in 1955 to do so, TWI notified the public when swimming areas were unsafe. For a history of our test sites, click on Water Sampling. TWI was instrumental in working with the Tisbury Department of Public Works to establish a state-certified water testing laboratory.  At present, the Tisbury Board of Health takes samples weekly at all public beaches in Tisbury.

Further Water Monitoring Action – In 1998, helped the Town pay for monitoring wells near Lake Tashmoo which would determine whether road runoff, geese or failed septic systems were the primary source of pollutants in the pond.

Catch Basins – In 1992 TWI began planning for one of its most acclaimed projects: an improved catch basin system to tackle pollution caused by road runoff. The following year, TWI won a $50,000 grant to install catch basins along West Spring Street. When completed, TWI conducted water quality monitoring before and after significant rain fall to gauge the efficacy of these treatment measures. In 1998, after final testing, TWI wrote a report confirming that these catch basins dramatically improved the quality of runoff which eventually makes its way into our waterways. This proof-positive paved the way for the planning and installation of future catch basins, including those on Lake Street and Grove Avenue. TWI continues to contribute to this worthwhile endeavor by helping the Town purchase catch basins. For current and future catch basin locations and to learn more about how catch basins work, click on Catch Basins.

Dredging Projects – Funded an engineering survey in 1992, the first step in an inner harbor dredging project. Five years later, TWI contributed the bulk of the salary and paid the project manager. Dredging began in the fall of 1997. TWI has since funded the project manager for other harbor dredging projects. In 2001, the TWI board voted to lend financial support to the Harbor Rim Dredging Project.  In 2014, the town again dredged the inner harbor to maintain the inside channel.  The dredge material from this project was distributed along the beaches on the west side of the outer harbor, from whence it came.

Pump-out Stations and Boat – Initiated pump-out stations for boaters (1989). Expanded this key waste-disposal procedure in 1994 by collaborating with the Town to secure a grant for the construction of a custom pump-out boat. In 2000, TWI contributed $5,000 towards the construction of a new pump-out boat exclusively for Lake Tashmoo. Until taken over by the Town in 2007, TWI provided the staffing assistants and publicity for this service.

Adopt-A-Beach Program – TWI inaugurated this monthly beach clean-up program in 2003. Made up of volunteers from various community organizations, this program continues to make a difference and is a model for beach clean-up efforts around the island. In 2004, TWI sponsored and escorted Adopt-A-Beach participants on a field trip to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Marine Biology Labs.  Now TWI participates in the Earth Day all-island beach clean-up day sponsored by Vineyard Conservation Society by recruiting adopt-a-beach volunteers and others to fan out all over town for this annual spring clean-up.

Helping the Harbormaster – In 1989, TWI began its tradition of paying for a harbormaster’s assistant to help enforce anti-pollution laws. In 2000, TWI increased its funding for the Tashmoo harbormaster assistant.  Now the town has incorporated funding for this position into its annual budget.

The Herring Run – In 2000, in partnership with the Tisbury Shellfish Department, TWI contributed $6,000 to construction of a state-of-the-art herring run at the southern tip of Lake Tashmoo. The herring run project was designed to replicate the historical run in this location and hopes to help rejuvenate the herring population. Herring are a valuable bait fish and help improve water quality.  TWI has pledged $10,000 to assist the town in dredging the Tashmoo Spring Pond in order to rehabilitate this important herring spawning area.

The New Lagoon Pond Drawbridge – In 2004, TWI initiated and chairs the committee to promote island involvement in planning for the drawbridge. The following year at its annual meeting, TWI hosted an island-wide forum on the design of the permanent replacement of the bridge.  In order to determine whether widening the channel entrance to the Lagoon might have a positive impact on the water quality of the Lagoon Pond, TWI contributed $10,000 to the Massachusetts Estuaries Project’s hydro-dynamic study.  The results of the study indicated channel widening would not change the flow into and out of the Lagoon.  In fact, the channel has been self-scouring, obviating the need for maintenance dredging.  The new bridge is scheduled to be completed in summer 2016.

Pilot Projects to Reduce Nitrogen - In 2014, TWI persuaded the town to contribute funding to a pilot oyster reef project just outside of Mud Creek in the Lagoon Pond.  Oysters are filter feeders that remove nitrogen from the water column.  The MV Shellfish Group coordinated with the Shellfish Constable to install cultch on a bed of shell.  Monitoring has shown that oyster drills predators have attacked the tiny oysters.  The location may be too salty for this size oyster to survive the drills.  Starting with larger oysters or moving the bed to a less saline location nearby may improve the survival and growth of this reef.  Any increase in successful shellfish beds in the Lagoon would have a positive impact on water quality.