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    The Cape Cod Commission has a long history as a partner in the effort to scientifically assess, monitor, and restore the water quality of the region's 45 salt-water embayments and estuaries. Past work included:

    • a 1998 Cape Cod coastal embayment project that examined the impacts of development on coastal water quality, with a focus on identifying the nitrogen sensitivity of nine embayment systems;
    • a 1998 nitrogen-loading study of Pleasant Bay and its 11 subembayments, which delineated subwatersheds, determined nitrogen-loading limits, compared limits to build-out conditions, and reviewed potential management options to reduce nitrogen loads; and
    • a 1993 hydrogeologic evaluation that investigated regional groundwater discharge to the Waquoit Bay watershed (Falmouth/Mashpee).


    Massachusetts Estuaries Project

    Since 2002, the Commission has been a partner and supporter of the Massachusetts Estuaries Project (MEP). When completed, the project will provide water quality, nutrient loading, and hydrodynamic information for 89 estuaries in southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod. The information will be combined through the use of a linked watershed/estuary model that will predict the water quality changes that will result from land use management decisions. A report for each of the 89 estuaries will evaluate several water quality conditions and how that relates to the health of the estuary and the land use changes necessary to bring about that improvement. The project is a collaboration of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST).

    Visit the Massachusetts Estuaries Project web site to learn about the progress made to date and to download completed Technical Reports for Cape Cod estuaries.

    Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Status for Cape Cod Estuaries (2012)


    CCC Use of MEP Data

    For several years, the Commission's water resources staff contributed embayment-specific, watershed-based hydrological and land use assessments to aid the scientific analyses of nutrient loading included in the MEP Technical Reports. Although no longer doing so, the staff continues:

    1. to integrate MEP findings and resultant Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), or nitrogen loading limits, into regulatory reviews and local Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan (CWMP) efforts, and
    2. to incorporate final US Environmental Protection Agency TMDLs for nutrients into watershed "fair share" nitrogen-load allocations.

    In Fiscal Year 2010, the Commission's water staff performed a regional wastewater flow analysis using data from the MEP data summaries.

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