Protecting Public Health and Water Resources through Testing, Monitoring and Research

Our water quality and wastewater programs provide testing, monitoring and research in every stage of water use; from recreation, to drinking, to wastewater disposal.

Drinking, Surface and Ground Water

The Barnstable County Water Quality Laboratory provides high quality analytical services to our region’s private residents and municipalities alike. Accordingly, the Laboratory assists water departments on Cape Cod in meeting the monitoring requirements necessary for adherence to state and federal water quality standards. Water departments benefit from the flexibility of the Laboratory to assist when periodic problems arise, such as the seasonal and transient occurrences of bacterial contamination in the water systems.

The Laboratory also provides analytical services to owners of private drinking water wells. Sample pick-up is provided in the towns of Wellfleet, Truro, Eastham, Brewster, Falmouth and Mashpee. In 2021, the Barnstable County Laboratory received over 16,000 samples and performed over 87,000 analyses.

Finally, the Laboratory supports Barnstable County’s groundwater and recreational monitoring initiatives, including the Landfill Monitoring Program which provides surveillance of groundwater plumes beneath Cape Cod’s landfills and the Bathing Beaches Monitoring Program, which conducts collection, analysis and reporting of bathing beach water Cape-wide from Memorial Day through Labor Day annually.


All 15 of Barnstable County’s towns rely on a single source aquifer–the Cape Cod Aquifer– for 100% of their drinking water needs, making effective wastewater management essential to public health and environmental protection in our region. The Department does this through three self sustaining programs:

The Innovative/Alternative (I/A) Septic System Tracking Program assists towns with monitoring their I/A septic systems at no cost. An internet database collects inspection reports and effluent monitoring results, and it also allows regulators the ability to track compliance for 3,600 I/A systems across the Cape, Islands and Southeastern Massachusetts.

Cape Cod AquiFund provides an effective and efficient means of financially assisting area residents with often cost-prohibitive yet essential septic system requirements.

The Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center is the nation’s premier test-bed for academic institutions and private industry alike, diverting untreated wastewater from Joint Base Cape Cod where it is used to simulate residential wastewater influent. This allows for the active investigation and development of products that focus on nitrogen reduction to protect sensitive marine resources.

AquiFund Update: $64.3M in Loans Since 2007, $5M in Past Year

July 18, 2024 (Barnstable, MA) – Barnstable County is proud to announce that the Cape Cod AquiFund, the county’s low-interest betterment loan program, has reached a new milestone by dispersing $5 million […]

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Waste No Water Library Tour: Stop #6 at Brewster Ladies Library!

The Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center (MASSTC), a division of the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment, invites you to the 6th stop of the Waste No Water […]

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Discover How Barnstable County is Tackling Wastewater Challenges on Cape Cod

Are you concerned about water quality problems on Cape Cod? Want to do something about it? Dive into the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center (MASSTC) Weekly Newsletter to find […]

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Woods Hole: Saving Our Ponds Series

The Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health and Circuit Films in collaboration with local community organizations recently launched a short film series aimed at raising awareness about the […]

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What You Should Know about Recreational Water Quality on Cape Cod this 4th of July Week

Every year, local and national news outlets cover water quality concerns as thousands of people flock to the beaches for what is inevitably one of the busiest weeks of the […]

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Barnstable County’s Beach Monitoring Program is Underway for the 2024 Season

The week of June 3, 2024 marked the first full week of bacteriological monitoring on Cape Cod’s bathing beaches. Each year, Barnstable County hires and trains six seasonal samplers to […]

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