Fighting for Clean Water on Cape Cod

CLF to sue two beach resorts over illegal nitrogen pollution in Wychmere Harbor and Pleasant Bay

June 22, 2018 (BOSTON) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) announced today that it has notified two Cape Cod resorts of its intent to file federal lawsuits. The notice letters allege that the Wychmere Beach Club and the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club are responsible for significant contributions of nitrogen pollution into Wychmere Harbor and Pleasant Bay.

The Wychmere Beach Club and the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club can discharge 45,000 and 80,000 gallons of sewage per day, respectively, into leaching fields located just a few hundred feet from the shores. The leaching fields are designed to allow pollutants, including high levels of nitrogen, to seep into the soil and groundwater. The polluted groundwater flows directly into the nearby bay and harbor, causing impaired water quality in these iconic areas of Cape Cod, especially during the busy summer season.

Excessive nitrogen in Pleasant Bay and Wychmere Harbor can eventually lead to fish kills, unpleasant odors and scum, and the near loss of benthic animal communities. These environmental impacts will greatly reduce the commercial and recreational uses of both waterbodies, which are popular destinations for kayaking, sailing, fishing and birding.

“Nitrogen pollution has disastrous effects on the plant and animal life that live in these beautiful waterways,” said Chris Kilian, Vice President of Strategic Litigation at CLF. “This type of pollution is also harmful to the people who flock to Pleasant Bay and Wychmere Harbor for water sports and other recreational activities. It’s time we hold large polluters responsible for their destructive impacts on our environment.”

The notice letters assert that the resorts’ discharges into Pleasant Bay and Wychmere Harbor require federal Clean Water Act permits. The Clean Water Act’s “citizen suit” provision allows private individuals and organizations to sue violators in federal court after first providing 60 days’ notice.

CLF experts are available for further comment.