The restoration of the Cape’s water resources is among the most pressing issues facing the region. Our water resources define Cape Cod and are the underpinnings of our economy as well as our personal well-being and health. For far too long the Cape has failed to invest in the level of advanced wastewater treatment needed to restore and preserve our marine waters. There are strong signs that the period of neglect is ending as numerous towns, spurred on by the creation of new funding tools such as the SRF zero percent interest, the creation and funding of the Cape and Islands Water Protection Trust, the local option Water Investment Infrastructure Fund and enhanced local option short term rental revenue, are moving forward with long overdue wastewater management projects. While these funding tools have reduced the impact of these projects on the local tax base, they remain significant expenditures and we must use all the tools available to the region to make these projects as affordable as possible.

To this last point, APCC has identified a critical role that Barnstable County can play in providing an additional funding option that will directly benefit homeowners by helping with the cost of connecting to sewer systems. The beauty of what we are suggesting is that it is within the administrative control of the county to take an action that will potentially benefit thousands of Cape residents over the next few years.

APCC has issued a call to the Barnstable County Commissioners to lower the interest rate charged to homeowners under the Community Septic Management Program to zero percent to mirror the interest rate charge to the county by the Commonwealth for these funds. By lowering the current five percent interest charge to homeowners to zero percent, the county will be able to offer no cost financing to homeowners who are both upgrading their septic systems or connecting to municipal sewers. The benefits of this proposal are many, but most significantly, this idea builds upon the already successful management of this existing loan program and enhances it at a time when towns are ramping up their sewer construction. Lowering the interest rate charged by the county will enable towns to direct their residents to the county program and will significantly soften the impact of the cost of connection by taking advantage of an existing program at an interest rate of zero percent that is otherwise not available to homeowners.

APCC suggests that taking this action will be the single most impactful step the county can take to both support municipal efforts to clean up our waters and make a difference to the finances of families needing to connect to the sewers. This measure does not require legislative action and is a step the Barnstable County Commissioners can take now to send a strong signal to our residents that all possible help is out there to support clean water while protecting family finances.

Bit by bit we can take down the obstacles to clean water on Cape Cod.

Contact the Barnstable County Commissioners and urge them to adopt the APCC proposal to lower the interest rate under the Community Septic Management Program.

Ron Bergstrom – ronald.bergstrom@barnstablecounty.org
Sheila Lyons – sheila.lyons@barnstablecounty.org
Mark Forest – mark.forest@barnstablecounty.org