OneCape 2022: Protecting and preserving Cape Cod's water quality
During the OneCape Summit, local, regional, and national experts and advocates highlighted efforts to protect and preserve Cape Cod's water quality.
Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Beth Card said that the region has made significant progress in the seven years since Governor Charlie Baker signed the 208 Plan, but much work remains. “We are looking at how we invest in alternative and traditional infrastructure, Title 5, nitrogen sensitive areas, and how we marry those with a long-term watershed permitting plan to help make progress on the wastewater side to continue to improve water quality on the Cape.”
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Director Janet McCabe joined Cape Cod Commission Executive Director Kristy Senatori and Association to Preserve Cape Cod Executive Director Andrew Gottlieb for a spirited discussion about ongoing work on the local and national levels to address the region's water quality issues. Fifty billion dollars from the Infrastructure and Jobs Act is available through the EPA to help fund water quality solutions. McCabe said that the EPA plans to spend the next five years working to distribute those funds, assisting communities in spending it in the places that need it the most.
Since its inception in 2018, the Cape Cod and Islands Water Protection Fund has provided nearly $100 million in subsidies to support critical wastewater and water quality projects in the region, Cape Cod Commission Deputy Director Erin Perry informed the audience during a breakout session focused on wastewater financing. Energy and Environmental Affairs Undersecretary for Environmental Policy and Climate Resilience Gary Moran led a discussion on state-level regulatory changes, including updates to Title 5 regulations, the encouragement of watershed management plan adoption, utilization of watershed permits, and available financial assistance for towns and homeowners.
Cape Cod Commission staff outlined components of the Freshwater Initiative, a science-based, information-driven planning process to engage stakeholders and enable action to protect and restore Cape Cod's freshwater resources. And we welcomed participants of the newly established Cape Cod Ponds Network, who held their second meeting at OneCape. The Network is a forum for pond stewards and stewardship organizations on Cape Cod, coordinated by the Cape Cod Commission and the Association to Preserve Cape Cod. Pond-minded residents and staff had the opportunity to interact and opportunities for resource sharing, research, and enrichment opportunities.
This year’s Summit offered attendees the opportunity to participate in a mobile workshop that included a tour of local ponds. Cape Cod Commission Water and Natural Resources staff guided the tour, providing information about healthy freshwater pond ecosystems and discussing the factors that contribute to a pond's decline.