The Association to Preserve Cape Cod has released its second annual State of the Waters: Cape Cod report, which showed an increase from last year in the percentage of coastal embayments and ponds with unacceptable water quality, while the quality of the Cape’s public drinking water supplies remained excellent.
The State of the Waters report is a comprehensive assessment of water quality in the Cape’s coastal embayments, freshwater ponds and public water supplies. A predominance of unacceptable water quality grades in the report for coastal embayments and freshwater ponds is a reflection of the impact of excessive nutrients on the Cape’s water resources, according to the findings of the 2020 report.
The greatest source of nutrients impacting embayments and ponds is from inadequately treated wastewater from septic systems. Stormwater runoff and fertilizers are additional sources of nutrients impacting the Cape’s waterbodies.
“Once again, the data shows clearly that nutrients are the single biggest driver of poor water quality on Cape Cod. We have known for years about the degraded quality of our bays, but the impact of nutrients on the Cape’s freshwater ponds, and the severity of the public health threat of toxic cyanobacteria blooms supported by excess nutrients, is a new and disturbing finding,” explained Andrew Gottlieb, APCC’s executive director.
“Our objective is to use the State of the Waters: Cape Cod project as a graphic tool to illustrate the extent that the Cape’s water resources are impaired and to move the public and policy makers toward taking the necessary actions to clean up Cape Cod’s waters,” said Gottlieb. “Our findings this year also show that the real lack of data for freshwater ponds is holding up action to improve pond water quality. This hampers the effort to protect public health and delays efforts to restore ponds. APCC calls on Barnstable County government, through the Cape Cod Commission, to undertake a region-wide 208 water quality study for ponds on a scale that was done for coastal bays.”
The results from the 2020 report show that more coastal embayments are being adversely impacted by nutrients than last year. No embayment showed an improvement from unacceptable to acceptable water quality.
Read the entire report here.
The APCC State of the Waters: Cape Cod report is funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, which is one of the commonwealth’s leading environmental philanthropy organizations and is mainly funded by state environmental license plate revenues.
Read more about APCC at https://apcc.org/