Our Comments Read at the DEP Public Hearing on December 1

Note: Today Gary read the following statement at the DEP public hearing regarding the proposed septic upgrade regulations. We encourage all of our Shoestring Bay neighbors to submit comments to the DEP. Feel free to borrow any content from our statement.

My name is Gary Markowitz and I’m the co‐founder of SOS‐Save Our Shoestring Bay, an organization representing many of the neighbors we have along the Cotuit and Mashpee shores of Shoestring and Popponesset Bays.

I’d like to thank the diligent staff of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for their hard work on 310 CMR 15. And 314 CMR 21 and for providing this public comments.

With each passing year, my concern and anxiety grow over the declining water quality and general health of the estuary that is Popponesset and Shoestring Bay. In 2021, the water quality was deemed “severely compromised” by the UMass School for Marine Science & Technology. Visually, the water is usually less than translucent, smells and is clogged with vast field of dying red and green algae that sink to the bottom adding to the muck that’s built up over many years.  

Visitors to our home in Cotuit notice the contamination and have renamed our bay “Poopanesset Bay.” We know that the poor water quality is caused by controllable human‐factor systems and that we need to act now to curtail the damage before this bay and many others like it are gone forever. We’ve known about the problems of Title 5 and the technology’s inability to process nitrogen. Based upon the science of nitrogen over‐nutrification or eutrophication, and its known impact on ponds, lakes, streams and embayments, we can no longer afford to kick this can down the road.

I Am Hopeful

• For the new MA Department of Environmental Protection 310 CMR 15 Title 5 and 314 CMR 21 Watershed Permit regulations.

• That the department will find the courage to stay the course and sign these regulations into law despite ill‐informed pushback.

• That these regulations will help us expedite restorative actions, with additional language prioritizing properties within 500 feet of a Nitrogen Sensitive Area, with particular attention to waterways that are severely compromised and where the water quality is in excess of 50% above its Total Maximum Daily Load of Nitrogen.

• That the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection will consider implementing an expedited approval of High Performance Innovative Alternative Septic Systems that remove significant nitrogen for general use. By reducing the timeline from three years to one year, this provides a much‐needed tool to municipalities that wish to expedite their implementation of their Watershed and Wastewater plans in hard‐to-sewer location.

We hope that the Department will encourage an immediate halt to permitting of standard Title 5 septic systems within 500 feet of a designated NSA where water quality exceeds its TMDL.

Thank you for considering my comments.

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