The Dirty Facts

Our goal is not to scare you. Or use hyperbole to get your attention. We just want to Save Our Shoestring. We’ve sourced reliable data from multiple points to provide you with the most current details about the water quality in Shoestring Bay. If you have new data points to share, please email me at

Shoestring Bay is facing unacceptable levels of nitrogen, which creates algae blooms that  suffocate other aquatic life and pollutes rivers, lakes, and bays. These can lead to fish kills, offensive odors and dangerous toxins. More than 80% of nitrogen comes from septic systems.

  • Popponesset Bay [of which Shoestring Bay is a tributary] can handle 13,853 kilograms (KG) of nitrogen/year. Current loading is 31,961 KG-N/Year.
  • That means we need to cut the sources of nitrogen by 56.7% to give our Bay a chance to recover¹
  • In 2019, the water quality of Shoestring Bay’s meets NO Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ standards ²
  • The water within the Bay is compromised by 100x more than acceptable fecal coliform bacteria counts³

1. Watershed Report: Upper Cape, Popponessett Bay, Mashpee, Barnstable & Sandwich, Cape Cod Commission, 2017
2. Biological assay by Horsley Witten Group, 2019
3. Office of Water 820-F-12-058, Recreational Water Quality Criteria, Health and Ecological Criteria Division, Office of Science and Technology, US EPA.