Department of Environmental Studies
Salem Sound is an estuarine embayment located in Massachusetts Bay, north of Boston, Massachusetts. Though heavily polluted by industrial and residential wastewater discharges for years, it remains a robust fishery for lobster. Point source pollution has been largely eliminated under the Clean Water Act through industrial pretreatment programs or primary sewage treatment plants. Many former industries have left the region. In spite of the gains made in water quality, Salem Sound still failed to meet state water quality standards in 1993. The major contributors to the Sound’s degraded water quality were suspected to be small scale, diffuse and cumulative in nature. In response to this, Salem Sound 2000, a public/private coalition of representatives from local government, businesses, non-profit organizations and citizens of the Salem Sound area towns and cities dedicated to evaluating the quality of Salem Sound and maximizing its value as a regional resource, decided to initiate a nonpoint pollution monitoring program. The Shoreline Survey and Source Identification (SSASI) program identified, monitored and remediated those sources through the use of volunteers in all phases of the program. This guide reports on how groups like Salem Sound 2000 and efforts such as the SSASI program were the outcome of failed resource management built upon the federalist philosophy of government. It gives a description of Salem Sound, including its industrial history and present condition, traces the development, successes and failures of both Salem Sound 2000 and the SSASI program, and offers and anecdotal guide on how to plan and implement a citizen-based monitoring program for nonpoint pollution.