Managing Nitrogen in Marine Embayments: A Deeper Dive into the Nitrogen Cycle and Oyster Aquaculture

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Excess nitrogen loading has become one of the most difficult coastal environmental issues for coastal communities throughout the northeast. Federal and State regulations require Towns to comply with Clean Water Act provisions regarding nitrogen and other non-point pollutants, to meet water quality standards. Many semi-enclosed waterbodies along the coast are classified as nitrogen impaired, and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) are being derived. Meeting TMDLs, and attaining water quality goals, require that Towns derive appropriate management approaches to reduce nitrogen loading at the source (which is expensive and operationally difficult) or to adopt Alternative Restoration Approaches that enhance the capacity to assimilate nitrogen. These alternative approaches include inlet widening, which increases the flushing and allows greater mixing with marine waters, and shellfish propagation, which enhances the grazing on phytoplankton, sequestering nitrogen in...[+]