Proposed Inter-Municipality Agreements
Slowly, Barnstable and Mashpee are creeping towards Saving Our Shoestring.
Several towns are working through a couple of Intermunicipal Agreement (IMA) plans. There are currently two IMAs (a smaller group of 2-3 municipalities and a larger group of 5) working to find the most cost-effective way to address the excessive nitrogen (from wastewater) impacts on the Bays.
Both IMAs are focusing on the installation of partial sewering along with other innovative technologies, in an effort to reduce 61% or more of wastewater-based nitrogen from entering the bays.
One IMA plan includes a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Dept. of Defense’s Joint Base Cape Cod (JBCC) to operate and expand the existing water treatment facility. Under that proposal, each town within that IMA would install its own infrastructure, including sand-filtration-to-groundwater plus an interconnection to the JBCC facility. The current long-term thinking puts this at 8-10 years before shovels even hit the ground. This extended time frame is unacceptable–we’re already at a tipping point!
In addition, targeted aquaculture shellfish farming would be applied to specific areas within the embayments as a catalyst to clean up residual nitrogen and keep our waterways healthy. Two demonstration projects (overseen by the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition) are already showing this approach has merit. There are a few good locations within Shoestring Bay for aquaculture that should be included within either IMA plan.
Finally, advanced technologies such as “Innovative/Alternative (I/A)” septic system designs may be applied to further aid in removing nitrogen from the septic leaching groundwater cycle.Learn more: Barnstable County’s IA septic program
These multi-pronged approaches may be the best, most cost-effective plan to rectify most of the issues within Shoestring and Popponessett Bays.
You ought to know that we’re not alone in this effort to clean up the estuaries within Cape Cod; the proposed IMA plans are just part of a larger effort to clean up all estuarial waterways for Barnstable County [the entire Cape south of the canal]. The MA Department of Environmental Protection estimates the cost of the Barnstable County waterways mitigation project (all 15 towns) to be $4 – $5 billion4.