Sixteen years later, in 1993, Mike Bothner's colleagues at USGS, Rich Signell and Brad Butman, were asked by Massachusetts Congressman Gerry Studds to testify at a Congressional hearing in Boston about a joint project with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) that Bothner was managing. Butman and Signell presented a color video of a sophisticated 3-D circulation model that they had developed to analyze the impacts of MWRA's proposed sewage outfall on the health of the Massachusetts Bay ecosystem. The model proved essential in convincing the regulatory agencies and the public that the proposed outfall, an integral part of the entire Boston Harbor Project, would not jeopardize the health of the Massachusetts Bay ecosystem while extensively improving the health of Boston Harbor.
Why had the level of participation of scientists in the Boston Harbor Project changed so dramatically? What makes the relationship between scientists and managers work? This case study tries to address these complicated questions. While to some extent the ingredients of good interactions are elusive, the relationship between scientists and managers requires at least two components that are essential for any relationship to work: commitment and communication.
To work most effectively, scientists and managers must work together over the long term. The time frame for scientific studies, policy planning, and implementation can take several years to decades. Therefore, it is essential that all parties feel some sense of long-term commitment from the other parties (Table 1). MDC's budget was so constrained in the late 1970s (see Levy and Connor, 1992) that they were unable to make any long-term commitment to capital improvements to the region's sewage infrastructure, much less to the funding of science to address long-term needs. As part of the settlement of the Clean Water Act violations associated with sewage discharges to the harbor, nearly $2 million in funding was made available to study the impacts of wastewater discharges to the harbor and the neighboring coastal waters. These fines monies served as seed money to initiate National Estuary Program funding to the Massachusetts Bays Program and provided some stimulus to the start-up of the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Enviroment. Besides funding there was also an institutional recognition of the importance of science in the evaluation of MWRA outfall siting and discharges. The state made a commitment to ensuring detailed peer review of major environmental projects. Massachusetts' Secretary of Environmental Affairs James Hoyte formed a Technical Advisory Group comprising marine scientists from the region's academic and consulting community. Finally, MWRA 's Board of Directors established the Harbor Studies program that provided them with formal scientific input in an agency dominated by sanitary engineers. MWRA's Harbor Studies program quickly established a Cooperative Research Agreement with the USGS to develop circulation models to help determine how sewage effluent and particulates were transported around the bay.