Press Release May 15, 2012

Goodwin Pro Bono Team Helps Buzzards Bay Coalition Achieve Key Step Towards Pollution Cleanup

A team of Goodwin Procter attorneys, led by partner Greg Bibler, has recorded its latest achievement in helping the Buzzards Bay Coalition in its efforts to improve water quality in Buzzards Bay.

The team successfully negotiated  an agreement with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that Final Nitrogen Pollution Threshold Reports for five embayments in Dartmouth, New Bedford, Fairhaven and Wareham will be delivered within the next year. The agreement establishes interim deadlines that the University must meet to produce the Threshold Reports, and requires that the University report biweekly to the Coalition and the Department concerning its progress in meeting those interim deadlines.

Nitrogen pollution is the most significant threat to Buzzards Bay. Excessive nitrogen from local septic systems, wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff and agricultural fertilizers depletes the oxygen supply, suffocating fish and shellfish, and encourages the growth of algae, that clouds the water and blocks sunlight, killing eelgrass and threatening the multiple species that depend on it. The Threshold Reports are key to determining nitrogen levels and sources in each embayment and will provide essential information to local communities and the  Department of Environmental Protection  on where to focus nitrogen reduction and environmental restoration efforts.

“Signing the University to a contract that includes specific deadlines, interim milestones, and biweekly reporting to produce Threshold Reports for the five most heavily impacted embayments in Buzzards Bay was a great victory for our client, and for the environment,” said Bibler. “I’m extremely proud that the Goodwin pro bono team was able to command the attention of senior officials at both the Department of Environmental Protection and the University to obtain this result.”

The Buzzards Bay Coalition is a private, non-profit membership organization dedicated to the protection, restoration, and sustainable use of Buzzards Bay and its watershed. The organization works to improve the health of the Bay ecosystem for all through education, conservation, research and advocacy and is supported by more than 8,500 members.