Cape Cod may soon receive a $3.35 million grant from the state to help implement a regional wastewater plan, according to the Cape Cod Times. It is expected that the funding to the Cape Cod Commission will get approval from the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust, enabling local authorities to develop a wastewater management plan as required by the Clean Water Act.
The move has been welcomed by local officials and by state authorities who have described the project as a major step toward tackling the long-lasting problem stemming from the excess nutrients in the Cape's bays and ponds and their harmful effects on the environment. The grant is intended to help local authorities develop a regional plan to reduce nutrient pollution of local waterways.
The Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust was established in 1989 and consists of three members, whose main task is to oversee and manage the state's funds for clean water and drinking water projects. The three members that comprise the board are the state treasurer, the secretary of administration and finance and the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection.
In a letter to state treasurer Steven Grossman, Therese Murray, president of the Massachusetts Senate, wrote that she fully supported the grant and explained that the funding will be coming through a loan origination fee for the state revolving fund for water projects. She also said that the public should be aware of the great importance this project has for the state. According to Murray, local residents are being "choked" by profuse algae blooms and the impact of nitrogen coming from various sources, including septic systems. In response, Grossman said that a meeting of the board will be held to discuss details regarding the oversight and management of the funds.
It has been estimated that the total cost of the plan aiming to manage the Cape's wastewater will amount to anywhere between $3 billion and $8 billion. Having the grant money secured will hopefully enable the plan to stick to the lower end of that range, local and state officials, quoted by the Cape Cod Times, commented.
If the regional plan rolls out, it could also help the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deal with concerns raised in at least one of two cases of legal proceedings against the agency launched by environmental groups in relation to the Cape's wastewater management planning efforts. Christopher Kilian, director of the clean water and healthy forests program for one of these groups, the Conservation Law Foundation, said that he was "cautiously optimistic." Although the funding is a step into the right direction, hopes should not be set high before the actual framework for the regional wastewater management plan is seen, Kilian noted.