Cape Cod Town Failing to Protect Waters

CLF to re-file lawsuit against Barnstable as wastewater plant continues to pollute bays and ponds

Aerial view of algae mats in Prince Cove (north of North Bay) in Marston Mills, Massachusetts.

Aerial view of algae mats in Prince Cove (north of North Bay) in Marston Mills, Massachusetts. Cape Cod.

(BOSTON, MA) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) has notified the Town of Barnstable that it intends to re-file a Clean Water Act lawsuit against the town. Barnstable’s sewage treatment plant, located in Hyannis, is polluting nearby coastal waters with nitrogen. This pollution causes toxic algae outbreaks, which destroy habitats and sicken people and pets.

“The Hyannis wastewater plant is dumping sewage and pollutants directly into the ground, which invariably reaches nearby ponds, bays, and streams,” said Maggie Nivison, CLF attorney. “Barnstable officials are running the Town’s sewage facility without a federal permit and have taken little action to stem this crisis and protect the Cape’s waters. We need to solve this problem once and for all, as the region’s bays and ponds are heading past the point of no return.”

CLF initially filed this lawsuit in February 2021 and notified Barnstable of its intention to re-file it today after the initial lawsuit was dismissed in July 2022. In January 2023, the Court stated that CLF was allowed to re-file its lawsuit. Today’s notice is the first step to restarting the case.

Nitrogen pollution from Barnstable’s Hyannis sewage treatment plant fuels explosive growth of algae that is destroying the Cape’s coastal ecosystems. Algae outbreaks also force the closure of ponds and beaches each year, which harms the local economy and dampens tourism.

CLF’s lawsuit calls for Barnstable to address the sewage plant’s nitrogen pollution and comply with the federal Clean Water Act. The original lawsuit can be found here, and today’s notice letter is here.

CLF experts are available for further comment.