Public Input Sought on Proposed Sites for Stormwater Treatment Installations

DENNIS –The Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC) is holding a series of public meetings for citizens to provide input on proposed stormwater treatment sites identified as priority locations for addressing water quality issues in the Three Bays watershed.

The meetings will be held on Wednesday, August 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the Cotuit Library and Tuesday, August 29 at 5:30 p.m. at the Osterville Library.

The Three Bays watershed continues to suffer the impacts of nutrient and bacteria contamination from stormwater runoff, and combined with nitrogen from septic systems is causing major problems.

High nutrient levels, heat and drought last August resulted in one of the worst algal blooms to date, covering the 1,251-acre surface of North Bay, West Bay and Cotuit Bay.

The bloom depleted the water of oxygen and caused the death of over 40 fish, according to the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition (formerly Three Bays Preservation).

Recent storm events in July of this year caused shellfish closures across the region, and effective as of May all of North Bay, Prince Cove and Warren’s Cove have been closed to shellfishing due to poor water quality.

Beach closures also commonly occur after storms as pollution is washed untreated into area waters.

Over the past three years, four out of six beach closures in the Three Bays occurred due to high bacteria levels found after storm events.

With a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency Southeast New England Program, APCC is working with the town of Barnstable Department of Public Works, Horsley Witten Group and the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition on a three-year project to help clean up the bays through improved stormwater management.

The team completed a watershed field assessment this spring to identify sites where installation of green infrastructure stormwater treatment systems could help address the problem.

These low impact designs, which incorporate the use of plants, work to capture rain water and remove nitrogen, bacteria and other pollutants before they wash into the bays.

An initial prioritization of sites has been completed to identify two or more locations for final design and installation.

The public is encouraged to attend one of the upcoming public meetings to get an overview of the field assessment findings and provide input on the top priority sites being considered for construction.

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