image of barnstable county courthouse

Pollution is threatening Cape Cod’s famous waters. Its towns are spending hundreds of millions to head off an environmental disaster.

By Beth Treffeisen, Boston Globe

Early morning fog at Santuit Pond boat ramp.
Early morning fog at Santuit Pond boat ramp.

BARNSTABLE — The beauty of its placid bays, estuaries, and ponds draws millions of visitors to Cape Cod each year. But deteriorating water quality is threatening the environmental and economic future of the tourist mecca.

About 90 percent of the Cape’s estuaries — important for marine life and recreation — had unacceptable quality in 2022, according to a recent report from a local conservation organization. The main culprit: decades of nitrogen pollution, primarily from septic systems.

Most Cape towns are planning new wastewater systems that would improve water quality, but it could take decades to complete them and for the nitrogen already in the ecosystem to flush out. That reality is setting in among local leaders, environmental groups, and residents.

Continue reading the article in its entirety at Cape Cod pollution: sewer systems are in the works but will take decades to complete (