Cape water supply a top priority

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My View

Cape Cod Times

September 5, 2014

Cape water supply a top priority

By Vinny deMacedo

More than 80 percent of the wastewater produced by homes and businesses on Cape Cod use on-site septic systems, which eventually drain into ground water that travels through our watersheds to coastal areas.

As a result, the volume of nutrients entering the Cape’s coastal waters and freshwater ponds has significantly increased over the last several decades as the population has increased. These nutrients, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus, are damaging the majority of Cape Cod estuaries and freshwater ponds.

In the 1980s, the problem worsened when federal funding for wastewater infrastructure was eliminated. The construction grants program had previously funded up to 85 percent of the capital costs for the planning and construction of wastewater systems. While the science is solid and the increasing damage is clear, a workable solution has been more difficult to define and implement.

The Cape Cod Commission has been working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to update the 1978 Section 208 Water Quality Plan for Cape Cod. As an integral part of its approach, the Cape Cod Commission is working to integrate 35 years of information into a stakeholder-driven process.

Their goal is to produce a feasible and affordable areawide planning level document to address this critical problem. In response to these escalating environmental concerns, many Cape towns have already developed Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plans for their respective communities.

As state senator, I will use all available resources to ensure that the Cape Cod Commission, residents, businesses, town, state and federal officials, and technical and scientific experts have all of the tools they need to address this important issue.

I understand that each of the Cape’s watersheds have unique hydrogeologic features. I also realize there are many proven and emerging technologies that can help mitigate further wastewater discharge.

But, as state senator, my job is not to tell towns and residents what technology to use. My role instead is to help communities and residents get the resources they need to help solve this problem in an affordable manner on a town-by-town basis in collaboration with area-wide and Cape-wide planning.

I believe a large majority of Cape residents realize there is a problem and share my concern that if we fail to act we will further jeopardize our precious environment, negatively impacting everything from our vital tourism economy to public health to the values of homes.

Beyond its unmatched beauty, Cape Cod is truly unique in many respects.

County government, the Cape Cod Commission, local towns and many residents have been actively and effectively involved in working on a solution to this escalating wastewater problem for decades. I believe the decisions should remain at the local level and that it is imperative that they also must be affordable. As state senator, my job will be to work tirelessly to get the resources residents, local towns and the Cape Cod Commission need to restore and protect watersheds and water quality across Cape Cod.

State Rep. Vinny deMacedo, R-Plymouth, is running for the Plymouth/Barnstable state Senate seat being vacated by Therese Murray.

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