What we do in Water Resources

The Water Resources Department collects water samples from many of the Island's ponds to ensure a sustainable and safe level of water quality across the Island. With the information we collect we can suggest management decisions and share data with the public, to learn more about our local ponds and their information see Island Ponds- Coastal and Freshwater. In addition to sampling the salt and freshwater ponds and water bodies of the Island, we participate in a number of projects to alleviate pressure on our waters and to improve water quality, these include distribution of shellfish and eelgrass, removal of invasive and harmful species and implementation of systems to reduce nitrogen and pollutant input into our waters. If you'd like to learn more about why we should preserve our water resources check out our challenges page. 

Our Collaborators

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 the Natural Resource Division of the Wampanoag Tribe as well as the shellfish departments from each town and some private pond groups. The MVC collects water table data and provides it to the US Geological Survey, where it is posted on their website. The MVC 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. 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.

We could not complete all of our sampling without great interns every summer. Learn more about just a few of the interns we've had over the years!

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descriptions as found on each collaborator's website.

Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group: The Martha's Vineyard Shellfish group Inc. is a non-profit organization comprised of the shellfish departments of the six Island towns. 

Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head: It is the purpose of the Natural Resource Program of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head to establish and maintain the capacity and capability to manage programs on Tribal Lands, as well as beyond.

School of Marine Science and Technology: SMAST is nationally and internationally renowned for research and education in marine sciences, ocean technology, climate change, offshore wind and fisheries management and sustainability. 

U.S.. Geological Survey: We Provide science about the natural hazards that threaten lives and livelihoods; the water, energy, minerals, and other natural resources we rely on; the health of our ecosystems and the environment; and the impacts of climate and land-use change.

Friends of Sengekontacket: Friends of Sengekontacket, Inc. is a not for profit organization formed for the sole purpose of protecting Sengekontacket Pond, its barrier beach, Joseph Sylvia State Beach and Trapps Pond.

Lagoon Pond Association: The Lagoon Pond Association of Martha's Vineyard is an organization dedicated to improving the quality of the waters of Lagoon Pond and the environment of the surrounding lands.

Tisbury Waterways Incorporated: Tisbury Waterways Incorporated (TWI) is a citizens’ non-profit organization whose mission is to provide a community presence in matters involving the quality and improvement of waterways in the Town of Tisbury. 

Other projects

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The blue pages were created to inform landowners about their watersheds and what they could do to protect them and our other valuable water resources on the island. You can download a digital copy here or stop by the commission to pick up a physical copy!

Read "The Island Blue Pages: A "Phonebook for Conversation" an article written about the blue pages here!

Shellfish Regulations

Shellfish play a crucial role in our water's ecosystem and in our island culture. They improve water quality by filtering out algae, nitrogen and other particulate to leave cleaner, clearer water for us to enjoy! 

We often work with local shellfish groups including the Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group Inc. as well as the shellfish constables in each town to distribute shellfish, remove harmful and/or invasive species that threaten shellfish from the ponds and test water quality so shellfish can continue to thrive in our waters.



Oak Bluffs


West Tisbury

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

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