Many APCC members voiced support for our comments about the new Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, during the confirmation process. It was flattering to have Senator Elizabeth Warren read our letter during the Senate debate on Mr. Pruitt’s confirmation. While APCC from time to time has been critical of the EPA, mostly for inaction, we have also worked closely with the agency on projects that had positive impacts on Cape Cod’s water and air quality. Our work as the regional service provider for the MassBays National Estuary Program is made possible through EPA funding passed through the state. This program allows APCC to provide services that benefit the 11 towns that border Cape Cod Bay. In 2016 APCC turned $61,000 in EPA funding into more than $600,000 in direct, measurable impacts.
Likewise, in 2016 APCC received an EPA Southeast New England Program grant of just under a half million dollars to improve stormwater management in the Three Bays watershed of Barnstable. The goal of the three-year project is to reduce contaminant runoff in the watershed and demonstrate methodologies that can be transferred elsewhere on Cape Cod. In addition to reducing contaminants in ground and surface waters, the project aims to reduce contaminant sources such as fertilizer use through public engagement. In addition to APCC projects, the EPA is a critical player in the Clean Water Act Section 208 area-wide water quality plan. APCC praised the innovative work done on the 208 plan and the facilitation by the EPA.
At this point, APCC is unsure of the future of EPA grants and programs. We have not always agreed with the EPA, but without question it has been a positive force in environmental protection and restoration for the region. We are concerned about the future based on the announced changes in priorities at the EPA. Changes in regulations that make it easier to pollute are not in the public interest. Budget cuts and program reductions will almost assuredly impact water quality on Cape Cod. APCC is devoting more staff resources to monitor developments in the agency and advocate for protecting programs important to the Cape.
From our beginnings nearly half a century ago up to the present, APCC has relied on sound science to guide our policies and actions. This practice holds true with climate change. The science is in: climate change is real, it is caused by the burning of fossil fuels for energy and its effects are already being experienced worldwide, including here on Cape Cod.
Especially now, when some voices question or even seek to suppress the scientific evidence behind climate change, APCC is fully engaged in the regional, state and even national discourse to promote action to reduce the use of fossil fuels and to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.
APCC is, and will continue to be, a strong voice for the environment.
What follows is a brief description of APCC’s current climate change initiatives. For more information, go to www.apcc.org/climatechange.
APCC is closely tracking over 25 bills filed in the state legislature for the 2017-2018 legislative session that are relevant to environmental issues on Cape Cod. The following are some of the high priority bills APCC is actively supporting.
A significant stormwater management project to improve water quality in Barnstable’s Three Bays watershed is moving forward. Under the management of APCC’s Restoration Coordination Center, the goal is to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff and fertilizer use by treating the water to remove nutrients and bacteria before it enters the bays. Excess nutrients can cause major algal blooms and fish kills, and high bacteria counts result in shellfishing and beach closures. The project includes construction of two or more stormwater treatment systems using innovative “green” technology, incorporating plants to maximize the amount of pollution removed.
APCC hired Horsley-Witten Group as the stormwater engineering firm to complete assessment, prioritization and design of the treatment systems. Field assessment of the watershed to examine stormwater runoff problem areas will begin this spring. A report on prioritized treatment sites will be completed by end of summer.
APCC along with our partners, Three Bays Preservation and the town of Barnstable, will host public meetings in April to discuss stormwater pollution impacts on the bays, provide project overview and receive input about areas to include in the initial site assessment. We will also host a demonstration rain garden workshop at the Osterville Library in June. Follow-up meetings in August will discuss the top priority sites proposed for installation of the stormwater treatment systems. Construction won’t get underway until late 2018, but now is a great time for residents to get involved to learn more about stormwater management and help with this project. (See calendar of upcoming events on page 6.) Contact April Wobst at email@example.com for more information.
Junqing “Simon” Xu, a science intern from Cape Cod Academy (CCA), assisted APCC staff with salt marsh monitoring at the Stony Brook salt marsh this past February. Simon is attending CCA as an international student from Shanghai, China.
Through CCA’s Science Internship Program, Simon worked with APCC staff during his school vacation to assist with and learn about salt marsh restoration and associated field monitoring procedures.
After introductory reading about salt marsh restoration, Simon assisted with measuring and mapping salt marsh vegetation at the Stony Brook salt marsh in Brewster using a GPS device, photo-documenting the marsh from previously selected GPS locations, collecting water quality readings, and entering and organizing field data in a spreadsheet.
APCC’s monitoring at the Stony Brook salt marsh is part of an ongoing effort to measure the success of a tidal restoration project completed in 2010. APCC was a member of the project team.
Simon’s work served as an educational experience and also made a real contribution to APCC’s ecological monitoring efforts. To fulfill the requirements set by CCA’s science department, Simon will complete a report and presentation summarizing the work he did during his internship.
Currently a junior at CCA, Simon is interested in chemistry and hopes to continue his education in the U.S. and to attend New York University.
Volunteer herring counts are underway at 19 herring runs in 12 Cape Cod towns, the highest number so far. Of the 35-40 herring runs monitored in Massachusetts, Cape Cod has the largest number for a geographic region. Among states that monitor herring populations, Massachusetts has one of the highest levels of herring run monitoring, thanks in large part to the more than 200 citizen monitors on Cape Cod.
APCC’s herring count program began in 2007 with the Stony Brook run in Brewster, only the fourth herring count program on the Cape at that time. Working with the Division of Marine Fisheries, NOAA’s Restoration Center, Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program, herring wardens and many organizations, APCC provided training and support to encourage volunteer counts along other runs.
Volunteer counts provide valuable scientific data on herring populations for fisheries managers to manage and protect herring stocks. Herring counts are also used to document the need for fish run restoration and to document the success of restoration projects. Run timing and temperature are also being examined as a possible source of information on climate change impacts on herring migration.
APCC is a member of the River Herring Warden Network, formed in 2011 with a MassBays grant, which provides herring wardens with the latest information on policy, science and management. To learn more about APCC’s herring count program, visit www.apcc.org/herring or contact Dr. Jo Ann Muramoto at 508-619-3185.
In March, Ed DeWitt retired as executive director of APCC, a position he served in since 2011.
As executive director, Ed worked to establish the APCC Restoration Coordination Center, an initiative to support the 15 Cape Cod towns with planning, management and implementation of environmental restoration projects. He was integrally involved as a supporter of the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Southeast New England Program (SNEP), which provides funding for water quality improvement projects to the coastal communities of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod towns on Nantucket Sound and Buzzards Bay.
Several years ago, he coordinated an Environmental Summit to develop consensus among the Cape’s environmental nonprofit organizations on the need for regional wastewater management and monitoring standards. Much of his attention during his tenure has been focused on the issue of wastewater management on the Cape, including development of the 208 Plan.
He was also actively involved in issues surrounding the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, particularly regarding potential environmental impacts and planning the plant’s decommissioning process.
Most recently, Ed led the organization in the purchase of APCC’s new permanent home in Dennis. The property includes a barn that is being renovated to serve as a meeting space and education center where APCC can host more workshops, lectures and outreach activities within the community. The property is also being used for development of our Living Landscape Laboratory, an effort to demonstrate alternative landscapes that support the environment.