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Barnstable County Marine Water Quality Monitoring Program obtains state funding


BARNSTABLE COUNTY, MA – Barnstable County will expand its marine water quality monitoring to include all estuaries and key near shore stations with $250,000 in matching funds from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Governor Baker included the state funding as a part of his certification of the Cape Cod Areawide Water Quality Management Plan Update.

The Cape Cod Water Protection Collaborative proposed an expanded monitoring program as part of its FY16 budget. The proposal, contingent on the receipt of a one-to-one match from the Commonwealth, was approved by the County Commissioners and the Assembly of Delegates.

“Cape Cod is confronting its long neglected wastewater problem that is responsible for degrading its iconic bays and estuaries,” said Collaborative Chairman Larry Ballantine of Harwich. “After much public discussion, the Cape is committed to implementing a new approach to managing its wastewater problems.”

The 208 Plan Update relies heavily on an adaptive management approach to measure and understand the impacts of nitrogen-reduction interventions. The monitoring program will establish a comprehensive baseline for that analysis and chart the effectiveness of water quality projects. In turn, this will help towns reduce the size and cost of capital projects.

“We want to help towns build only what’s necessary to solve the problem,” Ballantine said.

Monitoring is now a combination of individual and disconnected efforts funded with local, county and state funds. Barnstable County will become the clearinghouse for a coordinated monitoring and data storage program. Under the terms of the grant, the County will use $250,000 of its own funds and $250,000 from the state to expand the monitoring program to include not just the existing ongoing monitoring of water quality at selected stations in Nantucket Sound but to incorporate the monitoring of Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay as well.

This $500,000 in annual monitoring funds will test all Cape waters for total nitrogen, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH, temperature, nitrate/nitrite, ammonia, ortho-phosphate, total phosphorus, chlorophyll and salinity. With this information, the County can build the database necessary to assess progress and understand remaining water quality challenges. In addition, the County is committed to developing robust web-based access to the data for the public to ensure that trends in water quality are known to, and understood by, the general public.

“A strong monitoring program will ensure that Towns know exactly how much progress they are making toward achieving water quality goals,” said Andrew Gottlieb, Executive Director of the Collaborative. “The partnership with the Commonwealth speaks volumes of the commitment Governor Baker and Environmental Secretary Matt Beaton have to helping the Cape improve its water quality. This investment will help communities save money and is a critical endorsement of the work being done here on the Cape.”

The Collaborative will issue a Request for Proposals to solicit bids on the expanded monitoring program, which will commence in April of 2016.




The Cape Cod Water Protection Collaborative was created in 2005 to offer a coordinated approach to enhance the water and wastewater management efforts of Cape Cod’s 15 towns, the Regional Government and the broader community. The Collaborative seeks to protect Cape Cod’s shared water resources and to provide access to cost effective and environmentally sound wastewater solutions.

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