Massachusetts Estuaries Project

Massachusetts Estuaries Project at Nauset Estuary 2021

The Towns of Eastham and Orleans are working together to expand water quality monitoring for Nauset Estuary. This year, Eastham and Orleans will collect water samples from 15 stations in order to provide current water quality data. The data will be used to recalibrate or update the Massachusetts Estuary Program Model

Estuary DefinitionCanoe on the water

Estuaries are a place of transition from land to sea, from freshwater to saltwater, influenced by tides but protected from full force of the ocean waves, wind, and storms. Results from an initial sampling in 2001-03 led to the realization that stormwater runoff into our estuaries contaminated our waters with bacteria and nutrients from our septic systems led to growth of nuisance amounts of algae in our waterways.

Help Collect Water Quality Data

We need to collect water quality samples to help inform clean-up strategies. Accurate water quality data is necessary to develop effective watershed remediation strategies. The samples will help us determine how much nitrogen to remove in order to restore a healthy ecosystem. Together we can gather the data necessary to design the right size system to clean up our waters. Some cleanup will require wastewater collection and treatment systems. In other places, oysters (photo) and other natural means will be used to significantly reduce cleanup costs.

We are looking for adults - or it might be a parent and teen or college student - who are willing to take the training and enjoy five early mornings out on the water. We particularly need folks this summer who can volunteer boats in Town Cove, the channels of Nauset Marsh, and Woods Cove. Volunteers are also needed in Little Pleasant Bay. Please call the Eastham Health Department at 508-240-5900, ext. 3229 or Orleans at 508-240-3700, ext. 435.

2022 Sampling Dates & Times


Stage Harbor Pleasant BayNauset Harbor 
DateDayLow Tide*Sample Window Low Tide*Sample Window 
Low Tide*
Sample Window 
July 5Tuesday10416:30-9am13497:30-9am11426-9am 
July 18Monday 09586-8am13067-9am11056-9am 
August 3Wednesday10086-8:30am13107-9am
11156-9am 
August 17Wednesday10156-8:30am13247-9am
11246-9am 
September 1Thursday09376-8am12457-9am
10066-8am 

Online Resources