Water Resources

Water Resources Water The Vineyard is blessed with an abundant supply of clean groundwater that greatly exceeds our present-day and projected drinking water needs. Surface waters ring the perimeter of the Island and include fragile great ponds, fed by streams in the Western Moraine and cut off from the sea by barrier beaches. Tidal ponds are important sources of shellfish and finfish and provide significant aesthetic and recreational value, supporting the Island’s tourism industry. Both groundwater and surface waters are susceptible to pollutants that can threaten the health of these systems and our human community.

Over the past generation, rapid growth on the Vineyard has heightened concerns about how to ensure that the quantity and quality of the Island’s water resources remain sustainable. Though many variables are involved, one conclusion is inevitable: if we do not act to protect Island water resources, what we now take for granted will be forever lost.

The Vineyard is blessed with an extensive and relatively high quality system of interconnected water resources: aquifers, fresh water resources, coastal ponds and surrounding shallow waters of Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds and the Atlantic Ocean. These resources are vital to the supply of safe drinking water, are a crucial aesthetic aspect of the Vineyard's tourist industry, and are an economic support to the fishing, shellfishing, and recreation industries. These water resources face a variety of significant challenges as described in this section.
  • Groundwater and Drinking Water:  This section describes the Vineyards aquifers as well as public and private water supply.
  • Ponds and Watersheds:  This section describes the Island’s various watersheds and the ponds that are fed by them. See also the Coastal Ponds section.
  • Wastewater Management: This section describes the challenge of managing wastewater with public sewage treatment and private septic systems.
  • Stormwater Management: This section discusses management of stormwater, both on public roads and other public lands and on private property.

Since its inception, the Martha's Vineyard Commission has worked actively to analyze and protect the Island’s water resources. This has been done in close relation with towns and a number of agencies. For example, the MVC collects water table data and provides it to the US Geological Survey, where it is posted on their website, and it provides water table data to the Town Water Departments in Tisbury, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. Eelgrass studies and water quality assessments have involved working partnerships with the Shellfish Departments in Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, West Tisbury, Chilmark and Edgartown. Also, the Commission is a technical advisor to the Friends of Sengekontacket, the Tisbury Waterways, Inc., the Lagoon Pond Association, the Riparian Owners of Tisbury Great Pond, the Edgartown Ponds Advisory Committee and the Squibnocket Pond District Advisory Committee.


Sheri Caseau
Water Resources Planner
508-693-3453 extension 117
Email: caseau [at] mvcommission.org

Useful Links


Office location:

Office location:

The Stone Building
33 New York Avenue
Oak Bluffs, MA 02557

Telephone: 508-693-3453
Fax: 508-693-7894

Mailing Address

Mailing address:

Martha's Vineyard Commission
P.O. Box 1447
Oak Bluffs, MA 02557

Site Map


© 2008 - 2020
Martha's Vineyard Commission
All Rights Reserved