COVID brought our community many problems, but it also led to Federal Government funding at the State level that has yielded the Cape Cod region (Barnstable County) with something of a financial windfall.
Last March, President Biden approved the $1.9 trillion infrastructure bill called the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021. Massachusetts received $8.7 billion and of that amount Barnstable County received more than $41 million to help the region.
Please CLICK HERE to get more information on the ARPA.
“Cape Cod has a tremendous opportunity to utilize American Rescue Plan Act funds to make progress in key areas for our region, including protecting our water, investing in sewering and nitrogen reduction efforts, and expanding access to broadband internet” -Statement issued by Barnstable County Commissioners Ron Bergstrom, Mark Forest, and Sheila Lyons.
While we support sewer expansion, our concern is the enormous cost and time it will take to build out a municipal sewering system. As we have reported to you in the past, we are working on a far lower cost solution that goes beyond just estuary protection. Along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and many other partners, we are working to prove out enhanced nitrogen-reduction septic systems in a real-world neighborhood environment in Marstons Mills. We need to expand this effort and some of the ARPA funds would allow this to happen. So far, our work indicates that 60 – 80% of the existing Title 5 systems could be upgraded to innovative and alternative septic systems for a cost of about $20,000. This is compared to well over $100,000 per household for sewer expansion.
The Commissioners also want to hear from you and have launched a community engagement process and public comment period to help determine specific priorities for spending the ARPA money.
Through February 4, 2022, residents of Barnstable County can provide feedback on how the funds should be allocated in several ways:
- CLICK HERE to complete an online survey and provide comments
- Call and leave a voicemail with comments by calling 508-556-4733
- Send an email with comments and letters to ARPA@BarnstableCounty.org
Below is a sample e-mail that you can send to the Barnstable County Commissioners:
Dear Barnstable County Commissioners and County Representatives,Besides clean air, nothing is more important to all Cape Codders than clean water. Please direct some of the ARPA funds that Barnstable County has received to accelerate the installation and approval of new advanced individual septic systems to replace our outdated Title 5 septic systems and cesspools.Allocate funds to those willing to work on these advanced and enhanced systems including the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center (MASSTC), the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, and individual towns.These new systems hold the promise of lower cost and more rapid treatment of the wastewater that is contaminating our groundwater, which in turn, is poisoning our vital fresh and saltwater resources!Sincerely,Your Name