Water Quality


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 promotes conversations to increase knowledge and awareness of this complex issue.


May 2021 Town Meeting

A New Wastewater Treatment Plant for Mashpee

7 Reasons to Vote Yes at the May 2021 Town Meeting

The future of our environment and our economy is on the warrant for the May Town Meeting. Mashpee voters will be asked to approve a wastewater sewer and treatment system that addresses critical nitrogen pollution of our waters. This article NEEDS A TWO-THIRDS VOTE TO PASS. Here are seven reasons why we recommend voting YES:

  1. Mashpee’s waters are among the most impaired on Cape Cod

As Mashpee’s growth skyrocketed over the past fifty years, we have continued to use septic systems that, while safe for groundwater, release high levels of nitrogen into our waters. Once in our waters, this overabundance of nitrogen has fueled the growth of algae that choked out native eelgrass and shellfish that were critical to the natural cleaning of our waters. The end result is waters that are close to being “dead,” unable to support marine life.  This is a problem across Cape Cod but Mashpee is especially hard hit. View video

  1. Water quality issues can decrease property values and economic activity

As the waters continue to degrade, residents and visitors can see (and sometimes smell) the large floating beds of macroalgae. The water gets murkier and the bottom turns to sludge. Attention to this problem diminishes the reputation of our area and makes it less attractive to visitors.  Research in other areas of the Cape showed a direct correlation between water quality and home prices. The continued growth of our home values is not inevitable and homes could decline in value if we fail to act. View video

  1. This plant treats wastewater that is causing some of the worst pollution

The proposed plant helps reverse this trend and help restore our precious water. The plant will be located next to the Mashpee Transfer Station. It will actually be the twelfth wastewater treatment plant in Mashpee. Except for a small plant at the high school, the rest were installed by developers in exchange for permission to develop key sites such as the Mashpee Commons, Willowbend and parts of New Seabury. The plant uses advanced technologies that clean the wastewater within a closed system with the sludge taken off site. It will be as invisible to the neighbors as the current highly-efficient site that has been active for years right in the Mashpee Commons. View video

  1. There is no alternative solution

This problem has been studied for close to 30 years. The Town has over a decade of very specific annual data that shows the growing problem. The solutions must be multi-disciplinary. We have to track runoff and decrease our use of fertilizers. We can also use shellfish. Quahogs and oysters are extremely efficient filters of the waters and Mashpee was the first town in the U.S. to gain approval by the EPA to use shellfish for remediation of nitrogen pollution. But none of these efforts will be sufficient—we have no choice but to also sewer key parts of our town. View video

  1. Failure to act means near certain legal action that will limit the Town’s options

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection as well as the Towns of Mashpee and Barnstable have already received notice of intent to file a lawsuit from the Conservation Law Foundation related to the continued use of septic systems that do not remove excess nitrogen. If a suit moves forward, the Town could lose access to the low-cost financing and other potential funding sources. This is the group that successfully sued to clean up Boston Harbor. They know what they are doing and we need to take them seriously. Video CLF presentation

  1. Acting now means we are eligible for favorable financing

The full cost of the plant is expected to come in around $50 million. Luckily, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has set up a special fund that will provide zero percent financing for this type of project. The Town has made a preliminary application that is subject to Town Meeting approval. We can’t get this favorable financing unless we get a approval of two-thirds of Town Meeting attendees in May. View video

  1. This investment will require no new taxes!

It is expected that the full cost of the debt repayment will be covered from the Mashpee Wastewater Infrastructure Investment Fund set up just last year and from the new rental tax. Approval of this debt at Town Meeting will not add to property tax bills! View article

The Way Forward

The easiest and smartest way forward for our Town is it approve this new plant in May. Not moving forward will increase the cost to all of us and put our home values, economy and environment at risk.

Please help us take this critical step forward for the future of our community. If you are a voter, please watch the newspaper and your mail for the exact date and make sure to attend Town Meeting (expected for May, 2021). If you are not a voter, you can still help by speaking with your neighbors, distributing information, sharing the message on Facebook and social media and volunteering for our committee.

Learn More!

We’ve just completed an education series looking at water quality from multiple perspective. See full set of videos below:

Mashpee Clean Waters on YouTube

For further information

Please join our on-going conversation at the Mashpee Clean Waters Facebook group or contact us with questions or suggestions or to volunteer!

Our committee includes Mary Adams Oleksak, Gretchen Wollerscheid, David Long, Marjorie Clapproud, , Cheryl Viglione, Dawn Peterson, Louise McDivitt among many others.