Water resource protection and public education about Cape Cod's sole source aquifer have been significant activities of the Cape Cod Commission since 1990 and of its predecessor, the Cape Cod Planning and Economic Development Commission, from 1965 to 1989. Activities have included participating in and conducting studies to understand Cape Cod's aquifer, protect public and private drinking water supplies, manage wastewater, and protect and restore the quality of Cape Cod's fresh and marine surface waters.
Commission staff members have been intensely involved in understanding and advising on groundwater contamination and pollution plume clean-up efforts across the Cape, most significantly at the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR), which is now known as Joint Base Cape Cod (JBCC), a 21,000+ acre military installation, shown in the center portion of the image above, which is surrounded by the Upper Cape towns of Bourne, Falmouth, Mashpee, and Sandwich.
Environmental clean-up programs at the installation are addressing plumes and their sources. One program is managed by the US Air Force to address contamination on the southern portion of the base under the authority of the US Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund. Another program is managed by the US Army to address contamination on the northern portion of the base (Camp Edwards) under the authority of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
Below is a brief summary of some of the Cape Cod Commission's work related to water resources at Joint Base Cape Cod/MMR.
This team meets on a quarterly basis to review and provide input on all Joint Base Cape Cod/MMR clean-up programs and projects.
Participation on the...
Staff participated in the initial community team established by the US Department of Defense (DoD) for review and input on the groundwater contamination assessments that began when the MMR was listed as a "Superfund site" by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1989.
Staff chaired the group that lead the initial investigation of groundwater contamination discovered from an oil pipeline leak in Forestdale (an area in the Town of Sandwich) and its initial source clean-up.
Staff contributed to the development of the "Plume Containment Strategy" that lead to a uniform process to clean-up groundwater pollution at the MMR.
Staff participated in the development of a scope of work to begin the challenging task to assess potential groundwater contamination beneath the Impact Area as a result of an EPA administrative order. Staff advocated for far-field wells to characterize groundwater quality at the border areas to confirm the presence or absence of contamination; several of the “clean” areas were later developed as water supply sites. Staff reviewed initial reports and set the program on a correct path to better assessment procedures. This work lead to the formation of the Impact Area Groundwater Program that has implemented millions of dollars of clean-up work.
Staff helped develop water supply planning information that lead to the establishment of the Upper Cape Water Supply Cooperative, including water supply and demand estimates, draft legislation, and institutional cost estimates.
Coordination of the...
Barnstable County established the MMR Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) to provide an outside panel of experts to review and outline a plan for a balanced approach for MMR clean-up activities. The panel met for a year and provided critical advice to the MMR teams, regulators, and citizens. The SAP continued work for the Association to Preserve Cape Cod under a technical assistant grant.
See also the Cape Cod
Commission Planning Department's Joint Base Cape Cod (Massachusetts Military Reservation) web page!