It was remarkable to see a unanimous 436-0 vote by Mashpee Town Meeting participants Monday to move ahead with a long-needed new wastewater treatment plant and sewer system in the Cape Cod community. Voter after voter spoke passionately about how this investment will improve water quality in the Mashpee River, upper Popponesset Bay, Santuit River, Waquoit Bay, and other beautiful recreational waters affected by algae blooms and nitrogen pollution that the wastewater system will help stop. Through funding from the Cape Cod and Islands Water Protection Fund and a no-interest loan from the state, with one more vote Saturday the Mashpee project can move ahead without the need for any local tax increases.
With revenues coming in from a new fee on short-term rentals and sustainable local funding mechanisms, Cape Cod communities like Orleans are beginning to make real progress addressing water pollution issues that have threatened the Cape’s beautiful environment, water supplies, vibrant tourism, and economy. That’s the message from this comprehensive and thoughtful report by the Cape Cod Times’ Doug Fraser over the weekend. The Times shows why Cape communities should feel optimism and hope that they can fulfill the needed investments in water infrastructure to meet local water and sewer challenges, thanks especially to all who worked so hard to get the Cape and Islands Water Protection Fund up and running.
Overflows of raw sewage into the Merrimack River during rainstorms remain a public health and social justice crisis. Along with residents throughout the Merrimack Valley, UCANE expresses our appreciation to all our elected and appointed officials who are working hard to secure funding to upgrade and remove combined sewer overflows (CSOs). But as this new Lowell Sun editorial reminds us, the resources the federal government has made available fall far short of what Massachusetts needs– and what Merrimack Valley residents deserve.