Mashpee Looks for Long-Term Solutions for Water Quality

Photo by Christian Fischer of cyanbacteria.

MASHPEE – Mashpee is experiencing year-over-year declines in water quality as the region continues to wrestle with wastewater infrastructure and a warming climate, according to local experts. 

Department of Natural Resources Director Ashley Fisher said ponds like Ashumet and Santuit, the latter currently under swimming restrictions, continue to see elevated levels of cyanobacteria and nitrogen pollution caused by a combination of stormwater runoff and ongoing usage of cesspools.

“The level of impairment is dramatic and my focus is Santuit Pond right now. We need to do something,” Fisher told select board members at their Monday meeting.

Fisher said that town officials are working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine the feasibility of dredging alongside other pollutant-reducing measures, though she said the region needs long-term solutions. 

Select Board Chair and Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Councilman David Weeden said the town needs stricter regulations and fines for those endangering the ponds, as well as help at the state level in addressing pollutants.

“Our Chief is a hundred years old, these waters were all pristine waters when he was growing up. In his lifetime he’s seen a lot of impacts and it physically hurts when you see that. I’ve seen a lot of impacts in just my lifetime and I’m half his age,” said Weeden.

“We have to make a concerted effort to address it.”

Fisher said that the town will ask officials and residents to review bylaws related to wastewater management and nutrient pollution at the next Town Meeting.

About Grady Culhane

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