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Dennis Voters Cool to Sewer Plans

Dennis Sewer Map
Dennis Harwich Yarmouth Clean Waters Community Partnership
The breakdown of Dennis' sewer plan. The town hopes to start to address nitrogen pollution in the southern part of Dennis.

Dennis voters rejected a more than half-a-million dollar funding request to begin designs for a sewer project at Saturday's Town Meeting.

The proposal needed a two-thirds majority vote to take $660,000 the town has set aside for wastewater initiatives, and put it toward the design of a sewer collection system in the southern part of town.

Select board member Paul McCormick says the no vote pushes back the town's already overdue goal of reducing nitrogen pollution. And he's disappointed.

"We're seeing algae blooms, we're seeing beaches closed sometimes. All related to a wastewater issue that we have," McCormick said. "The longer we wait, the more expensive this is going to get. We are already a good year or so past where we thought we would be doing something, and now we're probably another year behind."

McCormick says that he has been trying to help the town address wastewater for about two decades. He says he and others involved in pushing the project forward will start a campaign over the summer to better inform voters of the need for sewers.

He says that without action, environmental groups like the Conservation Law Foundation will probably bring a lawsuit against Dennis, and force them to move forward.

The selectman says they will likely bring a similar article to Town Meeting in the fall.

Dennis' rejection at Saturday's Town Meeting arrives the same day another town on the Cape took a significant step towards implementing its own wastewater plan.

Mashpee voters, after approval at Town Meeting May 3, overwhelmingly passed a measure at the ballot box that sets aside $54 million towards the design of a collection system and wastewater treatment plant.

Meanwhile, Dennis has committed to working with the towns of Yarmouth and Harwich as part of a regional effort to tackle nitrogen pollution in local waterbodies. Dennis has agreed to host the site of a wastewater treatment plant that would treat effluent from the three towns.