Oyster Pond CWMP

The federal Clean Water Act mandates that the states and towns restore the water quality in places like the Falmouth estuaries and coastal ponds like Oyster Pond. To meet those requirements, the Falmouth Water Quality Management Committee (WQMC) has been meeting for over a year to carryout the tasks spelled out by Article 17 passed by Town Meeting in the spring of 2011, and by a subsequent town-wide vote. One of the tasks is to develop a Comprehensive Water Management Plan (CWMP) for Oyster Pond, as well as for the other Falmouth Estuaries. The CWMPs serve several purposes: They are memos of understanding to show the good faith and intent of the town to spend money to clean up the water bodies, they are loan applications so the towns can borrow that money from the state at favorable rates (2% or 0%), and they are "building permits" so the state can review the technical plans. The latter gives the town some feedback on the feasibility of its proposed methods for clean up and provides uniform standards for fairness among the towns.

Actual CWMP

The actual CWMP is being drafted by Wright-Pierce, in close cooperation with a Working Group that includes the Wastewater Superintendent and members of the Water Quality Management Committee. Wright-Pierce has studied the pond and its environment as well as the nitrogen removal requirements (TMDLs) and has suggested various methods by which the TMDLs might be met. These suggestions have been presented to the surrounding residents for comment and review. Review the presentation that was made on July 30, 2014 (PDF). Based on community comments and advice from the WQMC, a preferred method is being developed and will ultimately be described in a CWMP. The CWMP will then be sent to the selectmen for review and then sent to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (Mass DEP) for their approval. This process will take several years and will include Falmouth ballot initiatives to approve any capital expenditures. Of course, there will also be town wide discussion of funding mechanisms such as betterments, sewer fees and/or tax increases. It is also possible that financing can replace debt being retired so that there will be "no new taxes."

This planning and decision process will take years and will involve much public discussion and democratic debate. The WQMC is dedicated to public outreach to keep all the residents informed and to utilize citizen opinion. We welcome your ideas and questions.