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Barnstable County Receives EPA Grant to Develop a Low-Cost Wastewater Utility for Advanced Onsite Septic Systems 

September 26, 2022 (Barnstable, MA) | Utilizing Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grant funds of $1.15M from the US EPA’s Southeastern New England Program (SNEP) and $100K from The Nature Conservancy, the County is in the process of implementing a regional Responsible Management Entity (RME) Program over a 5-year period. The Program will benefit Cape Cod’s 15 towns and their residents by providing cost effective residential wastewater management support, similar to a sewer utility.  

The primary goal of the RME Program is to give homeowners the tools they need to make environmentally beneficial decisions about onsite wastewater treatment. For example, when a standard Title 5 septic system fails in an ecologically sensitive area, a participating homeowner would have the option to install a better performing innovative/alternative septic system under the RME.  Homeowners would receive assistance identifying the best available technologies, with assurance of proper design, installation, and long-term maintenance (including inspections, pumping, and basic repairs). Further, third party performance data would be collected from all participating systems, keeping municipalities informed of system effectiveness and helping them meet total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for nitrogen and phosphorus. 

According to Emma Gildesgame, Climate Adaptation Scientist for The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts, “The responsible management entity is a major step forward in expanding the toolbox of solutions for clean water on Cape Cod alongside sewer expansion, wetland restoration, and other innovations.”   

“It is critical that we reduce the nutrient loads that lead to harmful algal blooms on Cape Cod and protect the health of the iconic watershed and its beaches,” said EPA Regional Administrator David W. Cash. “Thanks to President Biden’s historic investment through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are able to make a significant investment in septic system management practices for the Cape that will help reduce the nutrients leaching into the waterways.” 

Sheila Lyons, Chair of the Barnstable County Board of Regional Commissioners added, “Wastewater remediation on Cape Cod is not one size fits all. This program takes the burden off homeowners by providing assistance for a process that can oftentimes be complicated and overwhelming. It’s going to be a lot of work, but it will be well worth it for our communities.” 

Senator Ed Markey extended his support for the Program stating, “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Barnstable County officials have secured key funding to improve the region’s wastewater management systems. This investment will help ensure that Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay waterways are protected for marine species and all those who live in and enjoy the Cape’s iconic beaches and waterways.” 

The grant funds through SNEP and The Nature Conservancy will help to get the RME Program started, along with support from partnering towns, the Barnstable County Clean Water Coalition (BCWC), the Buzzards Bay Coalition, Pleasant Bay Alliance and the New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA). Ongoing costs and program self-sustainability will be covered by RME user fees.  


Established under a Special Act of the Legislature in 1926, the Barnstable County Department of Health & Environment (BCDHE) provides regional public health and environmental health services throughout the 15 towns comprising Barnstable County. The Department manages several environmental, public health, and homeland security grants funded through state and federal resources. The Department’s primary mission is to protect public health and the environment and promote the physical and mental health and well-being of Barnstable County residents.  

ABOUT BARNSTABLE COUNTY REGIONAL GOVERNMENT OF CAPE COD Barnstable County provides exemplary government functions and services to keep our community healthy and safe, promote sustainable growth, and offer a proactive, open government that enhances the quality of life for the citizens of Barnstable County.