Demonstration Project Reduces Nitrogen Level in West Falmouth Harbor

FALMOUTH – Last year, 20 homeowners from the area surrounding West Falmouth Harbor signed on for a septic system upgrade to nitrogen-reducing technology.

The project was part of a demonstration effort led by the Town of Falmouth along with the Buzzards Bay Coalition and now the results are in.

According to data released by the coalition, the 20 installed septic system or cesspool upgrades have led to a 78 percent reduction in nitrogen levels in West Falmouth Harbor.

Nitrogen fuels the growth of algae that makes water cloudy and covers beaches and boats in slimy green gunk. It affects the underwater eelgrass bets and depletes the fish and shellfish populations.

Officials with the town and the coalition see the latest report as evidence that it is possible to retrofit on-site systems with nitrogen reducing technology.

The problem now lies in finding a way to make the systems affordable, the retro fit adds, on average, more than 25 percent to the cost of a typical 20 thousand dollar system.

The demonstration will now enter into Phase Two with the addition of 10 more systems in the area.

An extensive renovation project is set to begin on Nobska Light in the coming weeks.

The endeavor is being overseen by The Friends of Nobska Light, a non-profit organization formed to preserve and protect the more than century-old landmark.

The group has have hired an architect last summer with plans to restore the light and open it up to the public, and have now signed an agreement with New Hampshire contracting company Enviro Vantage for phase one of the project.

The initial phase is scheduled to include extensive rehabilitation work and painting on the light tower itself, and is funded through grants from the Falmouth Community Preservation Fund, the Falmouth Road Race, various private foundations, and a number of other donations in amounts both large and small.

“We are going to be doing some painting and working on metal parts that have rusted and corroded in the weather in the last 140 year,” said Catherine Bumpus, Executive Director of the Friends of Nobska Light, “so it is in need of a good going over at this point”

The ultimate goal of the effort is the restoration of the entire property and the eventual opening of the Keepers’ House as a Maritime Museum.

The Friends of Nobska Light say that they expect final approval to come this week from the Massachusetts Historical Commission, to ensure that the work is done in a historically appropriate manner, with work to actually begin shortly after Labor Day.

During the work, the tower will be encircled in staging and encased to provide a controlled environment for the rehabilitation.

Before the work commences the Coast Guard will issues a Local Notice to Mariners and temporarily extinguish the light.

According to Friends of Nobska Light, timing the start of the work in the fall has allowed well more than 1,000 visitors the opportunity to tour the inside of the tower this summer.


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