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Cape Cod's 890 freshwater ponds and lakes cover nearly 11,000 acres. These ponds are extremely fragile. In keeping with the work done to protect the region's drinking water supplies and coastal ecosystems, the community needs to identify strategies to protect and restore these critical resources.

The Cape Cod Freshwater Initiative is a science-based, information-driven planning process to engage stakeholders and enable action to protect and restore Cape Cod’s freshwater resources. Cape Cod’s ponds and lakes are dynamic natural systems that contribute to the region’s identity. Ponds and lakes are fragile ecosystems whose health is increasingly threatened by human activities in and around them.

Through this initiative, the Cape Cod Commission and its partners are completing an analysis of available monitoring data, assessing the overall health of Cape Cod’s ponds and lakes, identifying regional trends in water quality, and evaluating the impact of these critical resources on the region’s economy. This effort is informed by the 2021 Cape Cod Pond and Lake Atlas and will define a path forward for improving freshwater quality across the region.


Project Components

Engagement & Outreach

Stakeholder Information

The Freshwater Initiative includes a robust stakeholder process that involves working with and engaging stakeholders to develop a framework for identifying and implementing pond management strategies. Stakeholder meetings organized by groundwater lens began in March 2024.  

Cape Cod Ponds Network

The Cape Cod Ponds Network provides a forum for pond groups throughout the Cape Cod region to connect, collaborate, and share resources among its members and a space to discuss and advance solutions and strategies.


Local Stories

Share your perspectives about the freshwater resources that are meaningful to you. What concerns do you have? What has been done to help improve or preserve a pond you spend time at? How do you use your favorite pond? What stories would you like to share about living near or visiting a pond on Cape Cod?


Regional Pond Monitoring Program

The Regional Pond Monitoring Program aims to monitor a representative sample of ponds across Cape Cod to provide insight into regional freshwater pond water quality and how it is influenced by factors such as pond size, surrounding land use, land cover, and watershed characteristics.

2021 Cape Cod Pond and Lake Atlas

The 2021 Cape Cod Pond and Lake Atlas serves as a resource for updated pond information and provides the basis for the Freshwater Initiative.

Pond Profiles

Pond Profiles, available for all 15 towns and the county, provide a snapshot of regional and town-by-town pond information. Information includes freshwater pond characteristics, monitoring efforts, water quality impairments, surrounding land use and watershed details, along with related town actions and strategies, and existing local pond organizations.

Pond Viewer

The Pond Viewer is an interactive online tool that provides visual and easily accessible pond data and information for all 890 ponds.

Remote Sensing

Investigating the use of satellite-derived imagery and existing pond water quality data to help quantify changes in pond characteristics. 

Pond Characteristics

Assessing, through the use of GIS and other data sources, characteristics that may contribute to changes in water quality and determining potential internal and external drivers of water quality degradation.

Data Management and Analysis

The Cape Cod Water Quality Data Portal is a map-based viewer that allows users to explore marine water quality data aggregated from regional partners and to depict high-level temporal trends in water quality parameters by monitoring site or embayment. A module to share freshwater water quality data is in development.

Economic Analysis of Ponds and Lakes

The Cape Cod Commission contracted with the Eastern Research Group to conduct an analysis that quantifies the impact of proximity to clean freshwater on property values and rental prices, estimates the impact of freshwater quality on the regional economy, and assesses the willingness to pay for key freshwater pond features.


Pond Restoration Projects Viewer

Pond Management Strategies are being implemented across the Cape to improve water quality and overall pond health. The Restoration Projects Viewer identifies pond-specific challenges, strategies, results and lessons learned to inform further action across Cape Cod ponds.

Strategies Database

Staff is developing a pond-specific strategies database that includes a range of technologies, regulatory and voluntary options, and management approaches for protecting and restoring pond water quality.



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The Regional Policy Plan identifies the health of Cape Cod freshwater ponds and lakes as a key challenge facing the region, calling for an updated and expanded understanding of freshwater resources data. 

Read newsletter articles about the Freshwater Initiative

Read Stories


Project Resources

View All Resources

120K pdf
Jul 12, 2024
2024-06-04 Monomoy Lens - Stakeholder Meeting 3 Summary
Meeting 3 Summary: June 4, 2024 | 1 Freshwater Initiative Monomoy Lens Stakeholder Group Meeting 3 Summary: June 4, 2024 The third Monomoy Lens Stakeholder Group meeting for…
117K pdf
Jul 11, 2024
Meeting 3 Summary: June 3, 2024 | 1 Freshwater Initiative Nauset, Chequessett, Pamet, Pilgrim Lenses Stakeholder Group Meeting 3 Summary: June 3, 2024 The third Nauset,
114K pdf
Jul 11, 2024
Meeting 3 Summary: June 4, 2024 | 1 Freshwater Initiative Sagamore Lens Stakeholder Group Meeting 3 Summary: June 4, 2024 The third Sagamore Lens Stakeholder Group meeting for…
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