Latest Water Quality Data Show Continued Degradation

Mashpee has been gathering data on the quality of the waters of Popponesset and Waquoit Bays for over a decade. The latest data presented to the Select Board in July show the trends are bad. Both bays are completely impaired, have lost all eel grass and are ripe for fish kills.  The main cause is septic systems which do not remove nitrogen.  Just about every septic system in Mashpee is within 5-10 years of a river, pond, bay or estuary.  We are all part of the problem until we have universal sewers or alternative septic systems (many are in development but we are a few years from having universally-available solutions). For more information, please visit Mashpee Clean Waters.

Unanimous Vote for Wastewater Treatment System

At the May Town Meeting, Mashpee took a giant step forward with an unprecedented unanimous vote for a new wastewater treatment system. The treatment plant will be located near the town’s transfer station and will connect to sewer lines for many of the surrounding year-round homes. This project will remove significant sources of nitrogen that are polluting the Mashpee River and Popponesset Bay.

Due to smart planning and new funds available through the state, this $54 million system will not add to our taxes. It took many years to get to the point that this matter was presented to local voters.  It was clear that the voters understood the issue and were ready to support this critical first step to clean our waters.  Unfortunately, this plant represents Phase I of a plan with up to four additional phases. There is much more work to do. For more information, please visit Mashpee Clean Waters.

Masks Mandatory Effective May 6th

Masks Mandatory Effective May 6th

Calling it part of “the new normal”, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday that everybody in the state will have to wear a face mask or covering while in public. The new emergency order, which goes into effect on May 6, is the state’s latest step to slow the spread of coronavirus.“I signed an executive order requiring residents to use a face covering in public places when they cannot socially distance from others,” said Baker. “As we continue to think about the future and a return to a new normal, covering our faces when we cannot practice social distancing is an easy, critically important, and essential step that everyone can and should take to stop or slow the spread.”

Save Popponesset Bay would like to share information about a new partnership.

Rafi Nova is a Boston-based, ethically sourced and fair trade fashion brand that has pivoted to focus on the needs of the community at this time. In addition to their bags and accessories, they are now manufacturing masks and donating one mask per order to frontline workers. In the month of April they donated 10,000 masks and have a goal of donating 20,000 in May.

You can purchase masks for your whole family (children and adults) through their website: www.rafinova.com. If you use the code SPB at checkout, they will donate 30% of sales back to SPB in the form of a donation.

So, if you are looking to purchase well made masks from a company that is not only donating masks to frontline workers and also making a donation to Save Popponesset Bay, go to www.rafinova.com and place your order today!

Performance Mask

Kids Organic Mask


County Dredge

County Dredge

Warning for boaters: The county dredge did not clear the channel yet and it is unsafe to navigate. Please refer to the details in the letter from the Harbormaster at the end of this email.

As a result, SPB has been working very closely with the Town of Mashpee to extend the timeline for dredging and make the channel safer for boaters. Here is a bit of background on how we got here:

Each winter, the Town of Mashpee contracts with the Barnstable County Dredge to excavate between 5,000 and 10,000 cubic yards of sand from the channel, depending on the results of the pre-dredge survey. This years survey called for approximately 8300 cubic yards of sand to be removed from the channel. SPB’s private donations fund all dredging work over 5000 cubic yards. Thank you to our generous donors who help fund our beautiful beach and safe channel each year. We could not do this without you.The dredge and pipe arrived in late February and things were looking good. We thought the County would be done well in advance of the April 1 permit deadline, which is set so as to not interfere with the nesting of the plovers. However, consistent high winds delayed the start date of the dredging until mid-March. After 3-4 days of dredging the outermost sections of the channel (with the sand placed near the State stairs), the County experienced additional weather and mechanical delays.

Ken Bates from the Town’s Waterways Commission pursued and received an initial extension to allow the dredging to be completed by April 15. However, restrictions were then placed on non-essential activities because of COVID-19.

The SPB Board Members discussed their concerns with Mashpee Town Manager Rodney Collins, Ken Bates, and Mashpee Selectman Tom O’Hara. The Town did a great job working with the County to gain consensus that the dredging could continue with adequate safeguards. With the support of the State of MA, permission has been granted to extend the dredging deadline until April 30 to complete the work.

Weather permitting, the dredge is prepared to begin its work again tomorrow, Tuesday, April 21. It needs 3-4 days to complete the dredging of the entire channel. Sand will be placed on the Spit and graded to specifications in our permits.

Your SPB Board

Notice from Jeff Smith the Mashpee Harbormaster in its entirety:
This is a safety notice that there is a report of shoaling from Popponesset Bay Approach Buoy 5 to Approach Lighted Buoy 7, there has been a report of depths less than 3 feet at Low Water, all mariners are urged to use extreme caution when transiting this area and should consult local tide tables to arrive at times of high tide.

Mariners are also urged to use extreme caution due to the presence of dredge pipe with-in the area, due to the recent severe weather this dredge pipe may have moved location, last reported location was in the vicinity of Approach Lighted Buoy 2 and Approach Buoy 3. Mariners are urged to use caution and keep a sharp lookout for the dredge pipe when transiting this area.
Dredge Operations are set to recommence on or about 21st of April 2020 and continue till the 30th of April weather permitting, all boater are reminded to proceed at slow speed in the vicinity of the dredge and give wide berth.

Disclaimer – The safe navigation and operation of your vessel is the sole responsibility of the captain of that vessel the above information is accurate at the time of the email being sent.

Growing attention to water quality

Water Quality Efforts

SPB supports the efforts of the Mashpee Clean Waters group formed recently on Facebook with the purpose:

Mashpee has significant water quality issues. It’s a complicated problem and there’s a real need for clear information. We’ll try to share as much objective information and news as we can. Join us to advance the conversation and drive action to improve the quality of the waters in Mashpee.

The group is convening a virtual conversation series about different aspects of the issue.  Their first program is on Tuesday, September 24 at 7 PM.  Check out the information here on all their upcoming programs.

Quite a night!

It was quite a night!

Save Popponesset Bay and nearly 200 friends and neighbors attended the annual Summer Kickoff Event on July 11 at the Cabana Club. We had a chance to meet new neighbors, connect with old friends and enjoy delicious food and beverages.The sounds of It’s a ‘J’ Thing coupled with the beautiful Cabana Club venue made for a perfect evening.

This event is special as friends from Popponesset, Bright Coves, Popponesset Island and Summer Sea all gather to enjoy the evening but also celebrate the success of the past five years. In that time, SPB has made great strides to re-build the Popponesset Spit, build a stronger alliance with Mass Audubon, collaborate with the Town of Mashpee, and live up to our mission statement to protect the Spit and help maintain the waterways in and around Popponesset Bay.

A big thank you to all our supporters whose contributions, large and small, finance our work. We have begun the second phase of the project with a focus on expanding the outer channel with recent agreements signed and impact studies underway. We couldn’t have accomplished what we have, or our future plans without your help.

We hope more friends and neighbors attend our summer kick-off event next year as it is one of the best gatherings of the summer.

A few shout-outs to those who contributed: Caroline Malloy spearheaded the event from invitations to the excellent band, wonderful raffle prizes, the décor and all the details in between. Talia Cramer handled the social media efforts. Both are terrific leaders! We are grateful for all that they do and encouraged to see the “next generation” getting involved!

Thank you to our corporate sponsors: Tim Leedham and Bosuns Marina, and Chris Burden and New Seabury Marina and Sotheby’s/New Seabury Sotheby’s International Realty.

Thank you to all the raffle item donors and event volunteers. It all contributed to an excellent evening.

Enjoy the summer!

Spit Update

Spit Update

As you know, Save Popponesset Bay is the owner of 2/3 of the Spit, with the eastern third, owned by Mass Audubon. The entire Spit is home to the endangered plovers and terns. The State owns the section of the Spit immediately at the bottom of the Fisherman’s landing stairs. Since its most depleted state in 2014, we (SPB) have raised, from our neighbors and friends, and invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in trucked sand, dredged sand from the outer channel leading to Nantucket Sound, and the purchase and planting of dune grass to anchor the new sand for the Spit. We have provided security in partnership with PBA and our partner Mass Audubon. We have short time windows each year to perform these critical dredging and construction activities due to various Federal, State and Town laws and regulations related to various fish species and the arrival and breeding of the plovers and terns and other wildlife.

Why is there a lack of sand on the western end of the Spit this year?

This February, we again completed the trucking of thousands of cubic yards of sand plus new beach grass which has substantially built the dune closest to Audubon land. However, the Barnstable County dredge program, which has a contract with the Town of Mashpee (not SPB), made a decision this winter to direct the dredge and booster pump (which builds up the beach in front of the state stairs extending to the second crossover from the ocean to the bay) to Chatham. This decision was extremely detrimental to the health of the Spit. As you will notice when walking the beach, the dredge sand spoils are absolutely critical to the sustainability of the Spit. SPB, Mashpee Waterways Commission and the two marinas all spoke at the Mashpee Selectmen meeting on this issue to emphasize the safety implications of not dredging. The Town was ultimately successful in convincing the Barnstable County dredge program to send a dredge however they were not able to send the critical booster pump and piping needed to deliver the sand so critical to the corner and beach. The dredging effort did succeed in making the outer channel safe, helping to avoid serious boating safety injuries to unprepared boaters who rely on an annually dredged channel. So, the Barnstable County dredge succeeded in dredging the outer channel but the 5,000 cubic yards of sand was pumped onto the middle portion of the Spit well short of the beach and corner by the stairs which is owned by the State of MA. This, combined with a fierce storm in April created a small cliff in the now unprotected dune. This section of the Spit is not as beautiful as previous years when it was covered by the sand pulled from the outer channel. (For those interested, the trucked sand is more coarse than the dredged sand that has been smoothed by centuries of churning in the ocean.) SPB has requested permission from the State of MA to make repairs to the sand to shape the “cliff”, but we are not optimistic, given the reluctance of the State to approve any construction activities while in bird season. Our hands are unfortunately now tied by the State of MA.

What about the future?

The good news is that Barnstable County has purchased a second dredge (https://www.capenews.net/bourne/news/new-dredge-coming-to-cape-cod/article_cf15f142-1a81-535f-a7cd-1d71af75b7d6.html) to keep up with increased demand for dredging projects like the outer channel for the Town of Mashpee.

While our beach is not in the condition that any of us would like this year, we want you to know that going forward, providing we do not have any more dredge problems, the Spit should be more resilient with the clean beautiful sandy beach we have always enjoyed. And with your financial support of the longer, wider, deeper outer channel project we will have a much larger beach as the projected estimates are that this will produce an additional 40,000 cubic yards of good sand. We really are hopeful that everyone will contribute to fund this project, not just boaters, as this is the source of the sand to make our beach beautiful for all to enjoy!

Also, after three years of significant work and approximately $300,000 in various studies and engineering, partly funded by a grant from the State of MA, SPB has recently filed an expanded ENF with the State which officially kicks off the permitting process for the longer, wider and deeper outer channel. This longer, wider, deeper outer channel project, when completed, will provide a significant, renewable, larger annual source of high quality sand to support the Spit as well as result in significant improvements to the outer channel, improving boating safety and water quality.

How can I help?


We are always looking for volunteers who are passionate about SPB to be ambassadors of our mission. We empower you to promote our cause and protect our beach and bay. Currently, we are looking for community members to help facilitate community engagement, and expertise in grant writing, fundraising, marketing and website operations. Please contact Kathy Cramer (kccramer@comcast.net) if you would like to get more involved!


We greatly appreciate the Town of Mashpee’s efforts regarding dredging; however, we are asking that our supporters encourage the Town to step up for the big new channel project as well. Also, read the Mashpee Enterprise to stay informed.


We ALL need to continue to contribute to fund the expanded channel project and annual dune replenishment work as this work is critical to the health of the Spit and bay. We also appreciate the financial contributions which have paid for the remarkable turnaround achieved since 2014 on the Spit. We still have much work to do so we appreciate your future financial contributions. SPB is an all-volunteer group, so 100% of funds raised go to our mission to maintain and protect the Spit, while keeping the waterways in and around Popponesset Bay safe and navigable.

Thank you again for your support and interest,

Save Popponesset Bay

Click here to donate

February 2019 Update

Winter 2019 sand and grass work completed on the Spit:

Our winter project for this phase of the Spit re-construction was completed last month.  We trucked in 10,000 cubic yards of sand, 8,500 for the eastern side closest to Audubon’s land and 1,500 to repair damage on the western side at the foot of Popponesset Island. We also had grass planted on the eastern side to anchor the sand. The resiliency of the Spit has been improved dramatically, especially along the middle section where it was extremely vulnerable.

We also had a nice, low-profile, hummocky dune built at the entrance to the Spit and installed a dense grass array to deter people from walking on the dune. There is a clear pathway, outlined with grass on both sides.  In the spring we will look at whether we need to add symbolic fencing (stakes and twine) for the walking paths.

Outer channel:

We continue to work with Woods Hole Group and the Town of Mashpee for permitting of the outer channel to improve boating safety, while also providing a critical source of near-term and long-term dredged sand. This permitting process will continue through 2019.

Grant applications:

In 2019, we will continue to pursue grant opportunities including the MA Coastal Zone Management (CZM) and other funding groups which we follow.

With each public funding application, the State emphasizes the importance of the breadth of our private donor base.  We appreciate all contributions, large and small.  Without your support, we could not have accomplished what we have over the past four years.

Thank you:

We thank you for your continued support and hope you will consider a tax-deductible contribution to Save Popponesset Bay in 2019.  SPB is an all-volunteer organization.  We accept and encourage corporate matching gifts.

Please go to: www.savepopponessetbay.org/donate or mail your donation to SPB, Box 920757, Needham MA 02492.

Dear Friends and Supporters

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We are writing with an update and an immediate request.

You may recall that last year, we added sand to the western end to a point about half way down the Spit; that half has stood up well in the face of storms.  Woods Hole Group just completed its post-storm survey and found that the eastern end of the Spit, closer to Audubon land, is in significant and immediate need of sand, and we need to raise more funds for a project this winter.
We are currently evaluating our options as our decision about the quantity of sand will be driven by the funds we are able to raise over the next month. The cost is approximately $25/cubic yard, depending on the final volume.  Our target for this fundraising campaign is $250,000.
If you could please make your 2019 donation or pledge now we can make plans for this important winter project. Click the button to donate Click here to donate We will complement this trucked sand with dredged sand in March in our annual project with the Town.
In 2019, we will also continue to pursue grant opportunities including the MA Coastal Zone Management (CZM) which we understand will issue requests for proposals early to mid-2019 and we intend to participate in that process.
We are pleased with the progress we have made in 2018 as we work to rebuild the Spit and create a longer, wider, deeper outer channel. Last year we successfully obtained critical permits from the Town of Mashpee and the State of MA that allow SPB to continue to expand and rebuild the Spit, while also dredging the channel at the foot of Popponesset Island. We continue to work with Woods Hole Group and the Town of Mashpee for permitting of the outer channel. This will improve boating safety while also providing a critical source of near term and long term dredged sand. We have completed our numerous studies with MA CZM, the support of which provided a grant of $186,000. We are now working with the Town to prepare the necessary permitting applications. This permitting process will continue through 2019.
With each public funding application, the State emphasizes the importance of the breadth of our private donor base.  We appreciate all contributions, large and small. Without your support, we could not have accomplished what we have over the past four years.
We thank you for your generosity and hope you will consider a year-end tax deductible gift to Save Popponesset Bay.  We accept and encourage corporate matching gifts. Click below to donate or mail your donation to SPB, Box 920757, Needham MA 02492.
Click here to donate 

Annual Holiday Boat Lighting

Annual Holiday Boat Lighting

Please join friends and neighbors on Friday November 23, 2018 at 4:00 pm on Bright Coves Way for the annual holiday boat lighting.  We will get together in the reserve area across from 12 & 18 Bright Coves Way. It is a block party format with a fire pit and friends and neighbors bringing food and drinks to share.  Adults and kids are welcome! Join the countdown at dusk when the Peterson family throws the switch and lights up the sailboat in Bright Coves.

Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!