Natural Resources and Water Quality

Water Quality Impacts

  • Important to know areas where there could be breeches in the harbor. 
  • Are cars impacting breeches? 
  • Fertilizers are still contaminating the harbor. 
  • Large increase in pools on the island; the pools are heading into our freshwater. 
  • Wastewater, septic systems, runoff, and direct boat use in the harbor is impacting water quality. 
  • How many more boats are there from 15 years ago? Need a study. 
  • Additional homes exacerbate all water quality issues. 
  • Pesticide roundup; may not be able to stop the sale of roundup; want to eliminate it from the island. 
  • The water quality has gone down in the harbor almost every year since the 1980s. 
  • Recreational boating wastewater could be contributing to water quality problems. 
  • Painters are disposing their toxic materials in the drains; the Town doesn’t want a building where they can put their toxic waste; there are only six toxic waste disposals a year; need a biohazard site. 
  • There are a lot of non-compliant septic systems; they need to get them fixed or pay a fine. 
  • Could it be helpful to flush the harbor occasionally (open it up); should we do a circulation study on this? 
  • Anywhere without a lot of tidal flushing (or pockets) has significantly more pollution (Polpis Harbor); sand has been restricting flushing at the top of the harbor. 
  • Stores are still selling products with phosphorus. 

Natural Resources

  • At the top of the harbor, in 2009 there was a small amount of eelgrass, spider crabs, fish, etc.; now there is no eelgrass left, no spider crabs, only algae. 
  • Spartina (salt marshes) have been depleting; we will have storms where sand covers the salt marsh and kills them (spartina is under the dune). 
  • Where is the salt marsh going to retreat to; Nantucket Foundation just started looking more into salt marsh retreating and finding ways for the marsh to migrate back. 
  • Water temperature in the harbor is warming, which is harming the eelgrass. 
  • Should we rest some of the areas from fishing for the eelgrass; and don’t allow some people to anchor in some areas for the eelgrass. 
  • We should plant more native species. 

Regulations and Enforcement

  • We have a better understanding of what we need to do, but we need more vigor to get it done, and we need to pay for it. 
  • Need clear next steps. 
  • We need to provide enough funding for the town to enforce water quality regulations, including fertilizer use. 
  • Need to make action items measurable. 
  • New regulations should be considered; it is not allowed to dump grey water into the harbor. 
  • Need to prioritize issues and action items. 
  • Need an urgency to move some of the items forward. 
  • How do we improve enforcement; need more funding; could we charge an extra surtax for visitors rather than have the local people pay more for taxes [Hyline is already charging an extra 50 cents that goes to the Town, where does that money go to]; State of Hawaii has a visitor impact fee; look into that. 
  • The permitting you must go through at the state level is prohibitive; is there a way to shorten that and have stricter regulations. 
  • There should be a person who is in charge of implementing the fertilizer regulations; there need to be consequences and it has not been prioritized. 
  • We should microdose fertilizer. 


  • Need more data on total nitrate at various depths in the harbor. 
  • There is a town website with all the water quality data; we should expand some of the monitoring occurring. 
  • The sediment transport study within the harbor will be useful; looking at a couple points on the eastern side and Coatue to figure out how the harbor is circulating; may help make smarter decisions about dredging and resiliency. 
  • During COVID, what was the difference with boats in the harbor. 
  • Could be good to have some additional water quality sampling (some areas closer to shore; right now a lot of the spots are deeper). 


  • Green slime around the harbor, and is concentrated in front of certain properties. 
  • The Land Bank has been putting lifoseed (?) into the harbor to eliminate phragmites. 
  • Need more media coverage and more education of people (including the transient workforce). 
  • Chapter 91 license and oil absorbing pillow (?). 
  • There have been erosion control projects at Pocomo; is that resulting in excessive sand being dumped into the harbor, and reducing circulation? 
  • Madaket Harbor has better water quality than Nantucket Harbor; there is more flushing; but Hither Creek has always been an issue (there have been some wastewater inputs); Tuckernuck also has better water quality. 
  • Can we do some education on 97.7? 
  • Can you have shellfish beds that will improve water quality? We should identify some areas and hang sacrificial oysters at the boat basin.