Septic System Upgrades Around West Falmouth Harbor Called a Success

FALMOUTH – A nitrogen pollution reduction pilot program started last year in Falmouth is being hailed a success by the Buzzards Bay Coalition.

The septic systems and cesspools of 20 homes around West Falmouth Harbor were upgraded and have reduced nitrogen by 78 percent.

In 2008, the EPA approved a federal pollution limit, called a TMDL, for West Falmouth Harbor.

The largest source of nitrogen in the harbor at the time was from the town’s wasterwater treatment facility, which was upgraded a few years later.

Septic systems from surrounding homes now contribute the most nitrogen pollution to the harbor.

After homeowners learned about the most popular nitrogen-reducing technologies they selected two proprietary systems, Eliminite and Hoot, and two non-proprietary systems, blackwater and layered soil treatment, or “layer cake.”

The average cost to add nitrogen reduction to a conventional system was $20,417 and full upgrades from old cesspools cost an average of $33,225.

A second phase of the project will upgrade 10 more septic systems this year and a $7,500 subsidy will be provide for participating homeowners.

Twelve new “layer cake” systems will also be tested in communities around Buzzards Bay.

The coalition says the projects provide a model that can be used in other neighborhoods to upgrade septic systems and reduce nitrogen pollution.

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