Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates Postpones Aquifund Ordinance to October 18th Meeting
September 7, 2023 (Barnstable, MA) – The Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates has voted to postpone the highly anticipated Aquifund Ordinance, number 23-17, to the second meeting of October, scheduled for October 18th, 2023. This move has been made to allow ample time for the County Commissioners to present their plan on unreserved fund uses, ensuring that all aspects of this critical policy are thoroughly considered.
The Aquifund Ordinance, introduced by Delegate Dan Gessen from Falmouth and co-sponsored by Deputy Speaker Randi Potash from Chatham, John Ohman from Dennis, Elizabeth Harder from Harwich, and Mary Chaffee from Brewster, represents a significant investment in the future of Cape Cod.
The Aquifund Ordinance aims to address pressing water management challenges facing Cape Cod by allocating $5 million from the county’s unreserved fund to the Aquifund revolving loan program. This program provides low to zero interest loans to Cape Codders in need of replacing their septic systems, helping Cape Cod residents comply with new state regulations regarding septic system upgrades as the towns work to develop their watershed plans. The Cape Cod Commission estimated that as many as 86,000 new homes will be forced to replace their systems in order to comply with the new Nitrogen Sensitive Area designations. Additionally, the ordinance encourages the County Commissioners to establish a grant program specifically targeted at assisting low-income homeowners in affording the loans provided by the Aquifund.
Delegate Gessen emphasized the ordinance’s objectives, saying, “This ordinance seeks to invest in the Aquifund revolving loan program, promoting responsible water management practices and environmental preservation. This initiative is critical in the face of new state regulations, providing essential support to our community members. By moving to postpone it until next month, we’re hoping to give the Commissioners enough time to work with the Assembly, rather than getting bogged down in the procedural disputes and politics that get in the way of good policy.”
Speaker Patrick Princi stated “It’s no question water quality defines this region and the Aquifund helps play a part. It’s equally important that the Assembly works in conjunction with the administration to establish a plan for all liabilities and priorities like the Aquifund.”
Deputy Speaker Randi Potash underscored the urgency of addressing water-related issues on Cape Cod, stating, “Clean water is by far the number one issue that needs to be appreciated and addressed by every single Cape Codder. Facilitating and incentivizing our constituents regarding the expense related to upgrading their home septic systems is a quintessential regional responsibility. That’s good government at work.”
In a letter of support, both of Cape Cod’s state senators, Julian Cyr and Su Moran, expressed their endorsement of bolstering the Aquifund from the unreserved fund. They recognize the significance that an expanded Aquifund program will play in addressing water management challenges facing Cape Cod.
The postponement of this ordinance reflects the Assembly’s commitment to thorough review and comprehensive consideration. “We firmly believe that this ordinance is a critical piece of policy that can greatly benefit the residents of Cape Cod,” stated John Ohman, Dean of the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates. “By postponing its consideration, we are ensuring that every aspect is carefully examined, and all voices are heard.”
Dan Gessen emphasized that coming to a consensus is the objective, “This initiative is critical and the need for it isn’t going away in our lifetimes, I’m looking forward to working with the Commissioners prior to next month in order to find a way we can make it happen together. I hope the County Commissioners not only take the time to consider how much they would be willing to invest in the Aquifund but also strongly consider their vision for what the grant program could look like.”
Video of the Assembly’s meetings can be viewed on the County’s YouTube channel athttps://www.youtube.com/@BarnstableCountyVideo/playlists. The video for the September 6 meeting can be found at https://www.youtube.com/live/C62BPTvT2Mw?si=J6dcbt3QxG1bdJSf.
ABOUT THE ASSEMBLY OF DELEGATES The Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates is the legislative branch of County Government. As the County’s law-making body, the Assembly’s work takes the form of ordinances and resolutions which may be initiated by Delegates, Assembly committees, the Board of Regional Commissioners or by an initiative petition. The Assembly of Delegates appropriates the County’s annual operating and capital budgets as well as supplemental requests.
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. Learn more at https://www.capecod.gov/
Owen Fletcher, Assembly Clerk