$1.2 Million Investment in Stormwater Management to Improve Water Quality in the Three Bays

Cooperative effort among four groups and Town of Barnstable

The Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC) is partnering with the town of Barnstable Department of Public Works (DPW), the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition, the Horsley Witten Group and the Barnstable Land Trust on a five-year local, state and federally funded project to improve water quality in the Three Bays watershed through better stormwater management.

This is a multi-phase project, initiated in 2016 with a $472,574 grant from the U.S. EPA’s Southeast New England Program (SNEP). That initial effort has now expanded to a $1.2 million project including $119,002 awarded to the town from two Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management Coastal Pollutant Remediation grants, an additional $350,000 in federal funding awarded to APCC from the SNEP Watershed Grants program managed through Restore America’s Estuaries, and a combined $301,045 of in-kind labor and contributions being provided by the project partners. “This new funding will support Phase II of this project effectively doubling the scope and impact of this successful collaboration,” says April Wobst, APCC Restoration Coordination Center and Three Bays stormwater project manager.

The Three Bays watershed like many coastal estuaries on Cape Cod continues to suffer from the impacts of nutrient and bacteria contamination. High levels of nitrogen result in algal blooms and fish kills and bacteria contamination from pet and wildlife waste causes regular shellfish and beach closures. Stormwater runoff and fertilizers are two important contributors to this problem.

“The Department of Public Works has been taking a multi-faceted approach to addressing water quality concerns across the town. Stormwater management is one piece of the puzzle and a key strategy for the Three Bays watershed,” says Dan Santos, DPW Director. “The town has committed significant resources to this effort including over $120,000 in-kind contributions for this project alone.”

The team completed a watershed assessment in early 2017 to identify sites where installation of green infrastructure stormwater systems could help address the problem. These low impact designs, which incorporate the use of plants and soil, work to capture rain water and remove nitrogen, bacteria and other pollutants before they wash into the bays. Treatment of runoff at these priority locations will help address poor water quality in the bays, benefitting both our environment and our local economy including fishing and shellfishing as well as property values. The project is currently preparing to begin construction on two new stormwater treatment systems: the first to be located at Cordwood Landing and the second adjacent to Prince Cove marina. Horsley Witten Group, the stormwater engineering firm, has worked with the project team to complete assessment, design and permitting and will be managing construction in collaboration with the town. The green infrastructure stormwater treatment systems installed will eliminate 70-85% of bacteria and 55% of nitrogen from runoff at these sites as well as reduce impervious surface, remove invasive plant species and provide improved public access. With the additional funding this watershed assessment will be expanded and design, permitting and construction of additional treatment systems is anticipated for completion by 2021.

The long-term goal is to improve water quality in the bays supporting ecological restoration as well as commercial and recreational uses. Success will be measured by reduction in pollutants (nitrogen and bacteria in particular), algal blooms, fish kills, beach and shellfish closures as well as improvement to habitat for fish, shellfish and other wildlife.


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