Making Democracy Work

Natural Resources

The Natural Resources Committee of the LWV of Falmouth studies several different issues related to the important and fragile environment on Cape Cod.

Natural Resources Committee

Annual Report, May 2014
Pamela Polloni, Chair

Since after 10 years the legislature has failed to update the Bottle Bill, LWVMA joined with coalition partners MassPIRG, the Sierra Club and other organizations, and on Aug. 7, petitioned the Attorney General for a statewide ballot question to expand the five-cent bottle deposit to non-carbonated beverages. Thus, Falmouth League's major effort in autumn 2013 was to gather signatures to get the Bottle Bill Update on the 2014 ballot. Our members collected more than 500 signatures and, with the combined efforts, the Coalition managed to have a sufficient number certified. The effort continues, however, and more than 17,000 new certified signatures are required before the bill actually goes on the November ballot. These will be gathered in late May and June.

The National League's Agriculture Policy position update was our focus in early 2014. On April 15th, our Agriculture Study group met together with recorder Judy Stetson to review all topics and respond to the consensus questions.

Recognizing the impacts of climate change and both excess nutrients and rising sea level on our coastal town's groundwater and embayments, Falmouth's many local issues of natural resources protection are our members' major interest. We continue to participate with others in finding solutions for solid waste and wastewater management, water quality, open space protection, and energy conservation.

Pamela Polloni, Natural Resources Chair

Jayne Abbott, Joan Boyer, Ruth Brazier, Carol DeYoung, Ginny Gregg, Kathy Mortenson

Wastewater Challenges

Falmouth and Cape Cod is facing one of its most important challenges - We must sewer substantial parts of the town to save our bays and estuaries. This will require a substantial investment of money and effort.

  • Excess nitrogen from septic systems, lawn fertilizers, atmospheric deposition (rain, snow and fog) and storm water run off are overwhelming our natural systems. Our backyard septic systems contribute the most to this load of nitrogen entering our fragile bays and estuaries. The nitrogen levels in this waste stream are higher than what the natural systems can absorb. Just like the nitrogen in our garden fertilizers, this nitrogen causes aquatic plants to grow. But in this case it causes an explosion of growth, leading to algal blooms that can spread over a water body's surface blocking out sunlight, smothering eel grass beds and destroying shellfish beds. This can lead to fish kills and noxious odors.

  • If you flush a toilet, you are contributing to the problem. Nitrogen in our wastes leaches from our septic systems and then into the groundwater. Over time this groundwater migrates to our coasts and estuaries. We are already seeing stressed ecosystems. In the long run this could impact our Town's economy as properties values along the waterfront could fall and Falmouth could be a less desirable tourist destination.

  • Title 5 septic systems remove very little nitrogen. Only 3% of Falmouth is connected to the sewage treatment plant with the remainder of the town using septic systems or cesspools. To combat the nitrogen pollution to Falmouth estuaries, the Town must sewer substantial parts of the Town.

  • Falmouth has developed a Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan for the southeast facing estuaries.

Useful Links Regarding Wastewater Issues

The following are useful links regarding Wastewater Issues.