The #1 thing you can do to save Buzzards Bay? Upgrade your septic system. Here’s how you can this fall.

If you’ve been following us for a while, then you’ve no doubt heard us talk about septic systems. They’re the biggest source of nitrogen pollution to Buzzards Bay. To combat this harmful pollution, we’ve been working together with towns and homeowners across the region to install nitrogen-reducing septic systems. Now, we want you to be part of the solution by applying to upgrade your septic system to help protect clean water in your community.

Why should I upgrade my septic system?

algae washed up on rocks in Mattapoisett

Nitrogen pollution fuels the growth of algae, like this seen on Eel Pond in Mattapoisett.

In towns across Buzzards Bay, septic systems are the largest source of nitrogen pollution to our coastal waterways. Even properly functioning Title 5 septic systems cause pollution problems. That’s because they aren’t designed to remove nitrogen from wastewater.

A single home septic system may not seem like an issue. But when you add up all the septic systems around Buzzards Bay, they amount to a major source of pollution. In many rural and suburban communities, a majority of single-family homes use a septic system or cesspool to treat waste. That makes tackling nitrogen pollution a major challenge for town officials.

But there are solutions. The positive results of septic systems upgrades are already being shown in West Falmouth. There, 20 homeowners around West Falmouth Harbor upgraded their septic systems as part of a demonstration project we led with the town of Falmouth. These 20 upgraded systems are reducing nitrogen by at least 78% – making a difference to help speed up the harbor’s recovery. This project is now a model that we’ll be using in other neighborhoods across the region to upgrade septic systems and reduce nitrogen pollution.

How can I apply to upgrade my septic system?

home in West Falmouth with upgraded nitrogen-reducing septic system

20 homeowners in West Falmouth upgraded their septic systems last year, which are already being shown to reduce nitrogen to the neighboring harbor by at least 78%.

The Coalition is now working with partners from Cape Cod and Rhode Island as part of another pilot project to test a new nitrogen-reducing septic system technology called a “layer cake.” This alternative technology may offer a solution that has a lower cost and requires less maintenance and energy than other nitrogen-reducing systems.

As part of this project, we want to test layer cake systems under all types of circumstances at both seasonal and year-round homes. By installing these systems at different sized homes and in a variety of soil types, we can learn how they work under various circumstances – and how much promise they hold for nitrogen reductions in Buzzards Bay.

We’re looking for 10 homeowners to be part of this project and upgrade their septic systems this fall and winter. Homeowners who qualify for the project will each receive a subsidy of up to $10,000 to offset the cost of the installation. They’ll also get an upgraded septic system that will reduce pollution and increase the value of their home.

To learn more about upgrading your septic system, contact Maureen Thomas at (508) 999-6363 x230.

Category: On the Bay

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Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride

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Working to Save Buzzards Bay

The Buzzards Bay Coalition is a membership-supported organization dedicated to improving the health of the Buzzards Bay ecosystem for all through education, conservation, research, and advocacy.

We work to protect clean water on the Bay and on the land: