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Cape Cod towns may use nitrogen credit trading to restore Popponesset Bay

The Popponesset Bay Watershed
Courtesy Cape Cod Commission
The Popponesset Bay Watershed

Towns throughout Cape Cod have to cut down nitrogen pollution to waterways as part of the state’s new rules on septic systems.

An innovative program called nitrogen credit trading may help Sandwich address pollution in Popponesset Bay.

The town would pay for sewering some homes in Mashpee to cover Sandwich’s portion of nitrogen pollution in the shared estuary.

David Mason is Sandwich’s Wastewater Program Manager. He says it’s cheaper than Sandwich putting in sewer and it still removes nitrogen.

“So there’d be an additional amount that’s pulled out of the watershed that’s running to Popponesset Bay and at a cheaper cost than having multiple sewer lines trying to capture specific percentages.”

The specifics of the trades have yet to be worked out between the towns.

Mashpee, Sandwich, and Barnstable have a shared agreement to clean Popponesset Bay.

Listen to the full conversation with David Mason above.

Brian Engles is an author, a Cape Cod local, and a producer for Morning Edition.