Barnstable Evaluating Nitrogen Loading Issue

An algae bloom. Photo by Christian Fischer

HYANNIS – Barnstable officials say they are monitoring the state’s proposed Title 5 changes that could require those nearby watersheds to make costly upgrades to their septic. 

Falmouth has voiced concern about the changes, as the septic system installations can run around $30,000 per household and the town has a disproportionately large amount of estuaries.

The proposal has sparked discussion about new Innovative-Alternative Septic systems that can be installed home-by-home as way to cut down on contaminants of concern, nitrogen, and more

Town Manager Mark Ells says they don’t reduce enough and current sewer plans are still the main solution despite the costs.

“Don’t think that we’re ignoring innovative on-sites. They’re absolutely effective at reducing nitrogen, but collectively, do they get us to our TMDL’s? Not at this time,” said Ells. 

“We’re not excluding anything ever. We do review this on a five year increment, and as technology advances, if we find a better way to get this done—hopefully no more costly than what we have in front of us… we’ll modify the plan.” 

The Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan covers how the town will tackle water quality over the next 30 years, however the watershed permits are only issued for 20 year increments. Municipalities can re-apply for the permit once for a total of two decades of time. 

Virtual public meetings on the proposed Title 5 regulation changes will be held on January 24th and 25th at 6 pm. The comment period closes at 5pm on January 30.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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