We’ve all heard the saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” At the core of this proverb is the idea of partnership. Stellar results in business and in life usually have partnerships at their foundation, which has proven to be the case for BCWC’s work in the Three Bays watershed. This issue of our quarterly newsletter will focus on our cornerstone partner, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development (EPA ORD) based in Narragansett, Rhode Island.
In order for our supporters to fully understand the scope of this partnership, and its importance to BCWC and our Cape Cod community, we have reprinted and inserted their recently published bulletin “Exploring Solutions to Nutrient Pollution: Restoring Cape Cod’s Waters”. We ask that you take the time to read through this fascinating and informative bulletin, to really see how important our shared work is to the waters on Cape Cod.
We were introduced to EPA ORD about four years ago at a fortuitous moment. EPA ORD was launching a program they call “translational science”, where they work on a significant environmental challenge and look to partner with stakeholders to develop real world solutions.
For the staff at BCWC, this has meant that our team has the opportunity to spend hundreds of hours working with the experts at EPA ORD to understand the nutrient pollution problem. We are working on multiple approaches to reduce nutrient overload – one of the most significant problems for our Cape Cod waterways.
Science has proven that approximately 80% of the Cape’s nutrient pollution in our waters is related to septic systems. Our focus is on two approaches that will reduce nutrients. One is to work with private and public stakeholders to develop and permit new individual alternative septic system technologies that reduce nitrogen by 90% or more. The other approach is to find ways to treat and reduce nutrients once they have entered ground and surface waters.
Groundwater on Cape Cod moves at a rate of about one to four feet per day through our sandy soil. Therefore, this nutrient loaded groundwater will be entering our surface waters for decades to come.
The exciting news, outlined in the bulletin, is that we are already making great strides! One new septic system technology has already moved forward in the permitting process and our joint goal is to achieve “general” approval at the state level.
Together with other partners like The Nature Conservancy and the town of Barnstable, we are designing and piloting other nature-based approaches to nutrient reduction. One of the most exciting projects involves restoring wetland conditions in an area with over 100 acres of cranberry bogs. These restored wetlands will intercept and remove nutrients naturally.
All the while, BCWC continues to work with EPA ORD monitoring water conditions that will allow us to understand how our interventions will impact the nutrient load. The last pages our Fall Newsletter feature images from our latest videos, which show the BCWC team and our partners at work. We are in the field drilling wells to look at groundwater, installing a weather station to identify changing conditions, and moving forward in the cranberry bogs with another nutrient reduction pilot project.