Noting considerable progress on implementing the Cape Cod Water Quality Management Plan Update, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accepted and incorporated the 2017 Implementation Report drafted by the Cape Cod Commission into the 208 Plan Update.
The 2017 Implementation Report reviews the progress toward local, regional and state regulatory changes intended to meet the challenges of non-point source nutrient pollution detailed in the 208 Plan Update. Among its recommendations, the report identifies 11 priority watersheds where action must be taken over the next 12 months. The report also satisfies a condition within EPA’s September 2015 approval of the 208 Plan Update.
“It is evident that MassDEP, the Cape Cod Commission, and Cape Cod towns have made considerable progress to implement the 208 Plan Update,” wrote Ken Moraff, EPA’s Director of the Office of Ecosystem Protection in a March 21, 2018 letter.
The report was first submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental protection for its review. MassDEP then forwarded the plan with comments to EPA. Both state and federal regulators referenced the need for the region and towns to maintain progress toward implementing the plan.
“MassDEP has the responsibility to ensure that timely actions are taken to address the ongoing degradation of these water resources and the environment, particularly in those areas where significant ongoing discharges of pollutants create serious impairments,” MassDEP Deputy Commissioner Gary Moran wrote in the February 23, 2018 transmittal letter to U.S. EPA.
In response, Moraff, wrote, “As Cape Cod towns head into the Plan Update implementation phase, it is critical that they invest resources necessary to address nitrogen sources and meet the implementation milestones in the timeline that has been set forth by the Cape Cod Commission.”
EPA requested the next implementation update be issued by April 2019.
“We’re encouraged by the continued support of EPA and MassDEP, but it is clear that more is expected,” Cape Cod Commission Acting Director Kristy Senatori said. “With further progress already evident in priority watersheds, I’m confident that the actions and recommendations included in the Implementation Report are achievable in the coming year.”
As recommended in the 2017 Implementation Report, the Cape Cod Commission approved changes to its review of water quality management plans and forwarded them to the county Assembly of Delegates for its consideration. The Assembly is expected to take up these revisions in the coming weeks. If approved, the Commission will provide towns with further guidance on changes to the regulatory review and outline next steps for local implementation.