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EPA Awards Massachusetts Alternative Septic Test Center $96,604 to Help Reduce Phosphorous Pollution on Cape Cod

As towns have struggled with the necessity to stem the flow of human-produced nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous into our shared groundwater, ponds, bays, and estuaries, the team at Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center (MASSTC),  a division of the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment, is consistently working to develop innovative solutions.

Recently the Baker-Polito Administration announced that six local projects in Massachusetts aiming to mitigate water pollution and storm runoff would be funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). MASSTC is leading one of those projects.

The project is entitled “Reducing Phosphorous Impacts from Septic Systems Near Freshwater Lakes and Ponds – Defining Best Management Practices.” The project is a response to an increase in phosphorous inputs to Cape Cod’s freshwater lakes and ponds, which is often responsible for harmful algae blooms, anoxic events that cause fish kills, and the reduction of ecologically-stabilizing diversity, The Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center will apply the $96,604.00 awarded by the EPA to achieve the following:

• Installation of 4-6 advanced phosphorus removal onsite septic systems in areas where freshwater ponds impacted by phosphorus loading from septic systems, fertilizer use, and stormwater runoff;
• Two years of phosphorus monitoring post-installation;
• Soil Training for local septic system engineers and designers by nationally-recognized trainers George Loomis of the University of Rhode Island, and Soil Evaluator Trainer Peter Fletcher.
• Development of Best Management Practice (BMP) for phosphorus control via advanced phosphorus removal onsite septic systems.
• Equipment and engineering will be supplied by local and international technology vendors (representing $74,000 of matching funds).

The results of the project will be presented at regional training sessions for health agents, system designers, regulators, and information sessions held by town wastewater committees. All information will be posted on the Barnstable County website.

Learn more at

Brian Baumgaertel, Senior Environmental Specialist at Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center in Sandwich.
On site at the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center in Sandwich.