Three Bays Watershed to Get Financial Help From New Book

BARNSTABLE – The Barnstable Clean Water Coalition recently provided financial support for a just published 67 page report on pilot projects designed to assist with the clean-up of the Three Bays Watershed and Mill Pond.

It was researched and written by Professor Jack Ahern of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, along with ten graduate students. Ahern, who has a home in Osterville, will use the report as the basis of a forthcoming book.

With 7000 residential parcels located within the 12,000 acre watershed, Barnstable Clean Water coalition Executive Director Zenas Crocker points out that a major part of the project will involve developed properties.

“What could we do to re-introduce native landscaping? Particularly to use plants that are helpful in terms of attenuating nutrients. Things that aren’t gonna use too much water, are native and helpful to the environment,” said Crocker.

Only a small portion of the watershed, which is located in the towns of Barnstable, Sandwich and Mashpee, is protected open space. Septic system leaching is, by far, the leading cause of pollution, which has caused the water quality of the Three Bays to be severely degraded.

Crocker said the report also deals with some wide-ranging aspects.

“We also look at what does the aquifer look like? What are the different conditions on the cape historically that have led to the different landscape changes through time?” he said.

Due to years of erosion and sediment buildup, parts of Mill Pond that were once 6-to 12-feet deep, are now as shallow as six inches. In 2016, an algal bloom in Three Bays caused fish kills and threatened the local oyster industry.

Although the EPA, Town of Barnstable and Association to Preserve Cape Cod have been working on restoration for years, it is obvious to all that the solutions must include residents making changes to certain behaviors.

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