Solutions for Sediment and Contaminant Re-suspension During Storm Surges

Mitigation of Sediment and Contaminant re-suspension

By, Peter Hamscher, Matt Collins

Savin Hill Cove has been recognized as one of the most polluted sites in the Boston Harbor. The objective of this project is to develop sustainable solutions to mitigate sediment and contaminant re-suspension during storm surges and tidal inundation. Recent research data and information suggests that the quality of sediment in Savin Hill Cove is notably contaminated with bacteria such as fecal coliform and heavy metals. Salt marshes are a crucial component to coastlines and rely on clean sediment for nutrients and overall health. During storm surges and high tides, these sediments are aggravated, transported and deposited throughout the fringing salt marsh. This process of accretion proves to be detrimental to the health of the existing salt marsh and the future development of similar ecosystems. The target of this project entails a brief analysis of sediment quality in the affected area, potential solutions to divert sediment and to greater understand and appreciate the Savin Hill Cove salt marsh system.

Evaluation of Fish Advisory Research

Elizabeth Honig and David Finkenaur Have focused their efforts into understanding the processes involved in creating fish advisories for the Neponset River, Charles River and Lower Mystic River as well as data collection methods for each. Fish advisories provide the public important information about the fish that inhabit their local rivers. Elizabeth and David realized the importance of unifying the fish advisory data collection process across these rivers and sought to find a practical way to standardize testing practices by evaluating current methods and determining the most effective. Hopefully, their efforts will encourage further exploration and implementation of standardized methods of collecting data and producing fish advisories.

Morrissey Boulevard Flooding


Morrissey Boulevard Flooding


The Savin Hill cove, while being an important ecosystem and habitat for many forms of local wildlife, is also intertwined with the daily lives of Boston residents. The cove is located in very close proximity to Morrissey Boulevard, in fact it runs underneath it at some points. Having a major road this close to a body of water can be problematic, especially when that body of water is in fact a struggling wetland prone to flooding. To help tackle this serious problem of Morrissey Boulevard flooding, Scott Murphy and Brendan McEntee researched the problem and explored some options that could help alleviate the problem.

One method already employed is the use of flood ditches along the sides of the road. This method, however, is not a suitable solution to the problem on Morrissey Boulevard due to the extensiveness of the flooding that exists here. Flood ditches are only effective against minor flooding that won’t overflow from the ditches themselves, and next to the cove, this is not the case. Additional options that Scott and Brendan explored include a recurved flood wall built with environmentally friendly green concrete, and elevated roadways that simply elevate the road out of harms way. While both options are viable solutions to the problem, they are neither cheap nor simple, and would require rather extensive construction projects. Scott and Brendan’s project has highlighted some very interesting mitigation possibilities, and open the door for further discussion on a very real problem for many Boston commuters.

Biodiversity Assessment

Biodiversity Assessment of Savin Hill Cove

 Kyle Schultz, Yuhang Sun, and Ali Yusef were tasked with assessing the current level of biodiversity in the cove today. This included extensive field work in which the team was required to scour the cove in search of any and all forms of living organisms that are present in the cove, in order to obtain a better understanding of the current health state of the ecosystem. Their methods included on-foot observations in order to find total numbers of organisms, and also approximate habitat variation throughout the cove, as well as quadrant testing in both the rocky shore and mudflat areas of the cove. Rocky shore habitats and mudflat habitats tend to be homes to very different types of organisms due to the different physical and environmental characteristics of both. Small area quadrant testing can be used to find approximate population density of a given area.

Along with gathering observations, the team put together an informational packet on the biodiversity of the cove to be distributed to the local communities, so people with little or no biology backgrounds could read and understand the information about the condition of the cove.

Get Acquainted with The Green Harbors Project LivingLabs!

Check out the Links to visit the e-Awakening website and learn about some featured efforts to solve local environmental problems including the restoration of the Savin Hill Cove by the LivingLabs Team!

e-Awakening Featured Projects!

YouTube video of Green Harbors Project LivingLab!


Restoration of Ecological Services in Savin Hill Cove Through Biomimicry and Monitoring.

Savin Hill Cove in need of restoration

Savin Hill Cove, like many areas in Boston Harbor has been heavily altered by human activities. This project aims to restore the natural ecological services provided by spartina cord grass, which has been degraded by landfill and other anthropogenic activities over the years. The project consists of placing Living Island Biohaven© structures in the intertidal zone adjacent to the shoreline where restoration of marsh grass is needed. These intertidal wetlands provide ecological services such as storm surge protection, also as a natural filter of pollutants from marine activity, and as well as runoff from nearby roads and development. With the living island in place the group set up fixed cameras that are mounted in designated locations to monitor the growth, deposition, and erosion that occurs over a couple of months.

As a team they found it difficult to obtain maps containing information on the history of the shoreline erosion along with anthropogenic affects such as dredging in the cove. As the winter months approach the team also found it difficult to monitor growth patterns since plant life has become dormant; this makes it difficult to produce any information regarding the affects of the floating living islands. In response the team took more responsibility towards installing the islands and camera monitoring systems for future groups in the Living Lab program.

For more information about BioHaven Floating Islands, please visit

Savin Hill Geographic Information

Sandra final picture 

Land use and Land cover of Savin Hill Cove From 1777 to Today

Through the use of a Geographic Information System, namely ArcMap, Sandra Tremblay and Nicole Borgstrom will build an interactive map to portray the changing shoreline of Savin Hill Cove and the immediate surrounding area. They have found maps that span over two hundred years, as far back as 1777, and roughly every twenty-five years since then. Sources for maps that we will use include map collections at the Boston Public Library, Harvard University, and other online archive.As for division of work, Sandra and Nicole will both be working on georeferencing the old maps into digital, accurate forms. From there, they will create shapefiles for each year, enabling us to layer the maps. Finally, from this work, Sandra and Nicole will truly be able to see change to the shoreline and land use of the Savin Hill Cove area.

Assessment of Policy Conditions


Assessment of policy conditions, constraints, and consequences in the process of ecosystem service restoration – including the complex permitting process for restoration in urban harbors.

Stephen Norris and Kevin Carpenter are in charge of assessing and navigating the current political processes necessary to rehabilitate the Savin Hill Cove ecosystem. Ecosystems, as the name suggests, are systems of living things, and changing any part of the system can have far reaching effects for other members of the system, or nearby systems. This makes the process of changing any component of an ecosystem complicated, in order to protect the health of the system. Although Stephen and Kevin are looking to rehabilitate the Savin Hill Cove, they must still go through the political labyrinths of policy constraints and permit regulations. Stephen and Kevin have been tirelessly contacting members of the Boston city counsel as well as local community leaders and many others as they progress in finding ways to rehabilitate the Savin Hill Cove ecosystem under the confines of government policy and permit procedures. The daunting task of interacting with politicians and community leaders has proven challenging for the two, but they continue to make progress and update us regularly. Along with the aforementioned, they have contacted Andrew Jay of the Mass Oyster Project and Nature Conservancy with plans to contact Bill Golden (the lawyer that kick started the Deer Island Treatment Facility), Massachusetts State Representative Michael E. Capuano, members of the state legislature, as well as the Division of Marine fisheries.

Born to Be Wild Oysters: Green Harbors Project Honored

Dear Friends & Oyster Lovers!

UMass Boston and its Green Harbors Project (GHP) has been chosen for the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the The Corporation for National and Community Service! We are thrilled to receive this honor on behalf of our students and our local community partners.

As you may be aware, one of GHP’s major successes has been our oyster restoration program! In just one year, we have restored 2 acres of Wellfleet Harbor’s muck into a thriving oyster reef habitat with 4 million oysters filtering 200 million gallons of ocean water per day!

Join us in our campaign to keep this program moving forward by ‘gifting’ oysters this season. With your help, we can continue to restore our coastline, cove by cove, harbor by harbor. Visit and make your tax deductible pledge today! Our campaign ends December 31, 2013.

Thank you for your support!
Anamarija Frankic,
Green Harbors Project, Biomimicry LivingLabs

Born to Be Wild: Oysters Today for a Better Tomorrow!

Dear Friends & Oyster Lovers!

While Americans are poised to spend $60 billion on Black Friday and another $450 billion on Christmas, our coastal harbors are acidifying, our salt marshes degrading, and our marine life is suffocating.

Do we really need more stuff from the mall? Probably not!

This season, how about ‘Oysters on the Half Shell’, A Floating Island, An acre of Wild Oysters?

Welcome to “Born to Be Wild: Oysters Today for a Better Tomorrow!”

In just one year, we have restored 2 acres of Wellfleet Harbor’s muck into a thriving oyster reef habitat with 4 million oysters filtering 200 million gallons of ocean water per day!

With your help this holiday season, we can continue to restore our coastline, cove by cove.

Your money has power. Spend it making a world of difference–give the gift of a green future.

Visit and make your tax deductible pledge today!

Our campaign ends December 31, 2013.

Thank you for your support!

Anamarija Frankic, Green Harbors ProjectBiomimicry LivingLabs and Foundation for Green Future

Darcy Creech, Peter Beaton, Nantucket