Sunday, May 06, 2012

Are Your Concerned about Wastewater?

The Cape Cod Commission is very concerned about wastewater, and you should be, too. On Friday, talks on settlement of two federal lawsuits regarding management of Cape wastewater failed. (Republican lawmakers challenged the EPA on the regulation of pollution in groundwater.) Yesterday the Cape Cod Commission held a meeting at the Wellfleet Public Library. Executive director Paul Niedzwiecki led the discussion. The problem is the degradation of water on Cape Cod and what to do about it. How can wastewater be managed in an efficient and cost-effective way? (Be sure to visit the new Cape Cod Commission Web site, established to help Cape Codders understand and stay informed on the issue.)

Does Cape Cod need a huge sewer system?

Wellfleet, as you may know, is experimenting with filtration thanks to oysters near the entrance to Duck Creek, pictured above on the future reef at low tide. If enough nutrients are removed from water flowing into the harbor, our town may be able to avoid the high cost of sewers. But, what if the federal government decides Cape Cod must use and pay for an extensive sewer system?? Wellfleet gets among the highest scores for water quality in the region. It would be a shame to pay for something we do not need.

“The situation here is not as dramatic as other parts of the Cape where it is really bad,” Paul said, looking grim.

The Commission is trying to promote a discussion that addresses shared watersheds. The executive director feels it best if we can define the solution for ourselves, rather than have a solution imposed by Washington.

Curt Felix, member of Wellfleet's Wastewater Committee, commented that we need to be proactive, to avoid the broad-brush approach.

Paul also described a “tool” that the Commission has created, a nitrogen calculator. "No one should be forced to subsidize an approach that they get no benefit from,” he added. A plan was to be developed by December but now the pace will be accelerated. “I think we can help define a solution for all Cape Cod,” Paul concluded.

(Psst! Wellfleetians, have you had your septic pumped recently?)

If you missed this meeting, please try to attend another on June 2 in Truro from 2 to 4, Public Library, or Provincetown, Center for Coastal Studies, 10 to noon. There is also a meeting June 23rd in Orleans, Snow Library 10:30-12:30.