A Few Take Aways from Doomsday Report on Our Bays

We’re still digesting the data and observations from Prof. Brian Howes’ distressing report to the Town of Mashpee Board of Selectmen on the steadily declining water quality of our bays due to nitrogen pollution. Howes is Chancellor Professor at the School for Marine Science + Technology at UMass. Dartmouth and has been tracking the decline of Cape Cod’s waterways for more than a decade. Here are few of the low-lights.

  1. Opening statement: “For the first time in 20 years I have nothing good to say.“ At that point we opened a bottle and poured a glass of wine.
  2. “We’ve already started losing our fish, we just don’t know it yet.” Gulp. Another glass.
  3. “As build out continues, the nitrogen levels are getting higher and higher and higher…we’re increasing the amount of septic systems from residential development. It’s us.” Yup, it’s us. STOP TITLE 5 APPROVALS NOW!
  4. Prof Howes presented a number of damning slides about water quality in Mashpee and along Shoestring Bay. This one charts the rise in the amount of nitrogen in Shoestring Bay, among other waterways, as measured against a threshold of 0.38 mg/L. The dotted red line shows the threshold. Note every part of Shoestring Bay has exceeded the threshold for a decade, and the bar is going in the wrong direction. Only the Mashpee River, which flows into the Bay is worse. Yay us–we’re 2nd to last.

5. “We were talking about putting in sewers in 1997.” One big swig.

6. Closing statement: “Thank you. Sorry.” And we finish the bottle.

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