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.

Wastewater

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.

WBUR Collaborates with Scientific American to Spread Awareness about Nutrient Pollution from Septic Systems on Cape Cod

Big Press for Big Problems This week, WBUR, Boston’s NPR station, aired a two-part series about Cape Cod’s water pollution challenges. The series was part of a collaboration with Scientific […]

Read More

The Alternative: Creating Space for Technologists to Tackle Wastewater Challenges on Cape Cod

Interested in joining the discussion about wastewater challenges on Cape Cod? Check out “The Alternative”, a new weekly newsletter from Barnstable County’s Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center!

Read More

Read The Alternative: MASSTC’s Weekly Newsletter

The Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Technology Center (MASSTC) is the nation’s premier third-party testing and research facility for innovative/alternative (I/A) onsite septic treatment technologies. Since 1999, MASSTC has tested dozens […]

Read More

WCAI: Cape Cod researchers study removing PFAS from the waste stream

The Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center, or MASSTC, is a premier site for wastewater research located on Cape Cod. Some of their tests involve adding woodchips to septic systems to […]

Read More

Potentially Dangerous Bacterial Infections from Swimming and Shellfish: What You Should Know

You may have heard the rather alarming news about people contracting “flesh eating bacteria” while swimming in the ocean in North Carolina, Connecticut and New York. And while these cases are relatively rare, it’s important to understand how and why these infections occur.

Read More

Urine Diversion Pilot Study Pitched to Falmouth Water Quality Committee

Read the September 6 Falmouth Enterprise article, highlighting Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center’ pitch on a urine diversion pilot project to Falmouth’s water quality management committee last Wednesday, August […]

Read More