Funding to Help Restore Cape Cod’s Coastal Waters

By ecoRI News staff

In support of a significant water-quality initiative, the state of Massachusetts recently awarded a $950,000 grant to Barnstable County to provide assistance to Cape Cod communities as they develop plans to restore local waters to levels that meet state water-quality standards.

Last June, Gov. Charlie Baker certified the Water Quality Management Plan for Cape Cod — also known as the “208 Plan” named for a section of the federal Clean Water Act — that was developed by the Cape Cod Commission. The plan examines the causes of water-quality issues on Cape Cod and provides options for communities to consider and new planning tools to use in making decisions about potential solutions.

“Nitrogen pollution is one of the most significant challenges facing Cape Cod waters, affecting not only the Cape’s natural resources, but the economy and water quality,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “Through this grant to help communities implement the 208 Plan, we are pleased to empower Cape Cod towns with resources to develop local solutions.”

The 208 Plan calls for communities to develop watershed reports by July 1. This recent funding will support the county and commission’s efforts to provide planning tools, technical assistance and monitoring needed to create effective plans, according to state officials.

The grant is being provided to Barnstable County to support the following efforts:

Cape Cod Water Quality Monitoring program ($250,000). Barnstable County, through its Water Protection Collaborative, will use a combination of state and county funds to conduct a comprehensive monitoring program to provide valuable baseline data on Nantucket Sound, the east side of Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay water quality. The data will enable scientists to track changes, analyze trends and evaluate the overall condition of those waters.

Watershed Team Technical Assistance ($700,000). The program will support the Cape Cod Commission’s efforts to assist communities in meeting a June 30 deadline for developing watershed reports consistent with the 208 Plan.

“Cape Cod's future, and everything we cherish about it, depends on protecting and improving our water quality,” Sen. Dan Wolf, D-Harwich, said. “This is an important next step in accomplishing that crucial goal.”

Section 208 of the Clean Water Act requires the state to designate “waste management agencies” to develop and implement wastewater plans to meet water-quality standards. Recognizing local communities’ central role in developing the most cost-effective, locally based solutions, the state reaffirmed the designation of Cape Cod’s 15 municipalities as the waste management agencies responsible for implementing the 208 Plan.