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Implementing the Pleasant Bay Watershed Permit

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Carole Ridley, coordinator of the Pleasant Bay Alliance, attended the December 12, 2019 meeting of the Cape Cod Water Protection Collaborative to provide an update on the landmark Pleasant Bay Watershed Permit 

The Pleasant Bay Alliance is an intermunicipal organization between the towns of Brewster, Orleans, Chatham, and Harwich formed two decades ago to coordinate implementation of a multifaceted resource management plan for the Pleasant Bay area. 

In 2018, the four towns were granted the Pleasant Bay Watershed Permit, the first permit of its kind in Massachusetts.  Developed by MassDEP in close coordination with the Cape Cod Commission and EPA, it provides a permitting structure that transcends municipal boundaries and focuses on nitrogen management solutions across an entire watershed. 

The Alliance is continuing work to update the nitrogen loading model, coordinate implementation of pilot projects, and engage in outreach and education.  

Progress is being made on the 20-year implementation schedule. Chatham and Harwich are recognized as a model of intermunicipal collaboration with the successful Muddy Creek restoration project and continuing that partnership with a well-underway plan to treat East Harwich effluent at the Chatham Water Pollution Control facility. Sewering projects are ongoing in Chatham, East Harwich, and downtown Orleans.  Additionally, Orleans is in the fourth year of an aquaculture program in Lonnie‚Äôs Pond.  

Early progress in Brewster shows golf course and residential fertilizer reductions, in addition to implementation of an innovative/alternative (I/A) septic system pilot project.  Brewster town officials are collaborating with Barnstable County to identify the best available and cost-effective I/A septic technology and seek suitable areas within the watershed to pilot this technology. 

A $250,000 SNEP grant awarded to the Alliance to assist with watershed permit implementation tasks includes optimization of non-traditional technologies, testing the effectiveness of certain organizational approaches, and strategies for stakeholder outreach and community awareness.  

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