The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has drafted much needed regulatory revisions that specify how Cape Cod communities must deal with their wastewater.  These proposed regulations pertain to Title 5 Septic Systems and Watershed Permits.

The following are highlights in the revisions:

  • A Proposed Regulatory Framework will establish a new designation called Natural Resource Area Nitrogen Sensitive Areas (NSAs).  These new NSAs include all Cape Cod communities that are subject to the “208 Plan” approved by EPA in 2015, which include 30 watersheds across Cape Cod.  The designated NSAs will go into effect if the proposed revision to MassDEP’s Title 5 regulations are approved.
  • Within this new framework, there are two options that are being proposed which will require reduction in nitrogen migrating to impaired estuaries:
    • Option 1:  Title 5 NSA regulations require mandatory upgrades of current septic system technology to best available innovative and alternative nitrogen reducing technology (I/A)  OR
    • Option 2:  Communities operate under a Watershed Permit requiring implementation of plans to reduce nitrogen loading to meet specific water quality targets

It is very important that Cape Cod residents understand the requirements, time periods and where the cost burden will fall on individual septic system owners.

Information Sessions

MassDEP conducted four public information sessions in 2022 and 2023:

Public Hearings

MassDEP conducted five public hearings in 2022 and 2023:

Public Comment Period has been extended. Written comments will now be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on January 30, 2023. All comments submitted must include the name and contact information of the person providing the comments. Please submit comments by e-mail to and include Title 5 & Watershed Permit in the subject line.

Written comments may also be submitted by mail and should be sent to:

MassDEP, Bureau of Water Resources – Division of Watershed Management
Attention: Title 5 & Watershed Permit
100 Cambridge Street, 9th Floor
Boston, MA 02114

Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) has created an Outreach Toolkit that provides example text you can use when submitting your public comments. CLF also created an online form to submit public comments, the form contains prepared text that you can add to before submitting. Association to Preserve Cape Cod created an information page about the proposed regulations and they created a form you can use to submit your comments, the form contains prepared text that you can edit before submitting.

CLF Outreach Toolkit Submit Comments Through CLF Form APCC - Information and Form


Learn more about the current and proposed regulations that govern the construction and maintenance of septic systems and the transport of septic-system waste.

Learn more about the proposed regulation that would provide a watershed permitting approach to control nitrogen and other pollutants from entering embayments and estuaries.

The MassDEP NSA map identifies the watersheds designated as Natural Resource Area Nitrogen Sensitive Areas.

Commonly Asked Questions about these important regulatory proposals.

It is important to understand and compare the key differences of the Title 5 NSA regulations and Watershed Permitting Regulations.

Barnstable Town Manager Mark Ells joins Town Talk host Paula Hersey with an update to learn more about these proposed regulations, the scheduled public meeting and how and where to provide public comment.

On November 15 and 16, MassDEP conducted two Information Sessions about the proposed regulations.

Nov 15 Webinar Nov 16 Webinar