Carbon-based Permeable Reactive Barriers: What does the Future Hold for Curing the Nutrient Problem in Cape Cod’s Estuaries?


Research at the Reserve Series 

Join us for an informal evening learning about innovative research happening around Waquoit Bay. Each week you will learn from a different scientist about how they do their research, what they are discovering, and how it applies to today’s issues.

Thursday, March 23
6:30PM - 8:00PM

HYBRID: Virtual and In-person Presentation: Waquoit Bay Reserve Visitor Center (light refreshments served)

Groundwater delivers excess nutrients (chiefly from wastewater) to Waquoit Bay and other Cape salt ponds degrading water quality in these ecosystems. Reductions in these nutrient inputs have been mandated by the Commonwealth for more than 30 estuaries on Cape Cod. How will we achieve these reductions?  The standard approach is diversion of wastewater to sewers and a centralized treatment facility.  What if we could intercept and remove some of the nitrates, the major nutrient affecting water quality, within the aquifer using carbon-based “Permeable Reactive Barriers” (PRB’s)? In 2005, Dr. Foreman oversaw the installation of a pair of test barriers at the shores of the Waquoit Bay system and since then several other test PRB’s have been installed on the Cape.  Do the PRB’s work? How long might they last? What are the possible advantages (and disadvantages) of this approach compared to sewers?

Kenneth H. Foreman, Ph.D., Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory


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