Editor's note: The following letter was received in response to a recent article by Walter Brooks entitled, "Group formed to fight creation of wastewater authority".
To the Editor:
I couldn't agree more with coverage regarding grassroots frustration with the Cape Cod Commission's handling of nitrogen and wastewater remediation.
After more than two decades we still have no regional fertilizer management. That absence of regulations with teeth in the Regional Policy Plan is approaching criminal.
When the County sunsetted its Conservation Seedling programs we lost the best way to buy affordable, native, low maintenance plantings. The County Extension stopped the annual sales that used to be held at the Sheriff's Farm in Barnstable and we lost access to gardeners who volunteered and made moving away from pristine lawns and exotic landscaping fun and educational. Even their worms were an adventure! I miss those ground-covers, trees, bushes and grasses that were sold at rock bottom prices every Spring. They even provided fertilizer spikes designed for our soils.
When the Water Resources Collaborative, an appointed County authority, funded $45,000 to the Pleasant Bay Alliance for a 2009 fertilizer management report, it contained nothing of significant or timely note. PBA decided to focus on encouraging the 5 golf courses in their zones of contribution to continue to try and cut back their rates of overfertilization and of course, more bureaucratic outreach. Golf has saved many a marriage but it's toxic to our groundwater.
Last year, following the CCC's review of my town's wastewater management plan as a Development of Regional Impact CCC refused to condition their approval of the Wright-Pierce CWMP on designating Cape Cod Bay and the Namskaket Marsh as a District of Critical Planning Concern. Instead, my County insisted they be copied on reports.
Since most of our nitrogen and other "constituents of concern" source from our air and on the tides, CCC's DRI review of Canal Electric's discharges from Units 1 and 2 produced not one conditional instance of nutrient remediation. What of the County's support of SEMASS trash to electricity solid waste policies? They would rather fight windmills.
Nantucket is going to their next town meeting with more by-laws, definitions and regulations for fertilizer management. It's amazing that the 68 Work Group there accomplished so much in such a brief time.
But then they are not in Barnstable County.
This is the time we should be doubling down on adaptive management practices locally and with regional agreements and understandings with our neighbors. Ask CCC why there are no solar collectors cutting energy costs at Tri-Town.
The CCC can't be tweaked. There are many good people employed by the County, none of whom set policy, and I would hate to see our towns lose that expertise. It should never be expanded, not now, not ever.
And these are only a few of CCC most dangerous pedantic charades. Expand the Cape Cod Commission?
The CCC's authority should be challenged again and again until it is no more.