For Immediate Release
July 26, 2021
Contact: April Wobst at

Construction of two new stormwater management practices was completed along South County Road, Osterville in May of this year marking the completion of the third round of construction for the Three Bays stormwater project begun in 2016. This $2 million watershed scale water quality improvement project managed by the Association to Preserve Cod (APCC) in partnership with the town of Barnstable and Horsley Witten Group is celebrating five years of accomplishments.

Nutrients and bacteria are common pollutants washed off rooftops, roadways, lawns and other hard or impervious surfaces. When these pollutants make their way into ponds, streams and coastal waters through stormwater runoff they negatively impact water quality causing algal blooms, fish kills and beach and shellfish bed closures. However, nature-based stormwater systems like those designed and installed with this project can filter runoff using plants and soil to remove nutrients and bacteria, as well as sediment, trash, oils and other pollutants before they reach our coastal waters.

“We began this project, with the goal of completing a subwatershed assessment to prioritize sites and install one or two stormwater treatment systems,” said April Wobst, restoration ecologist at APCC. “However, with new grants and success garnered by strong partnerships, we have now constructed eight green infrastructure stormwater systems and completed improvements to two existing systems at six locations in the Three Bays watershed. We expanded our assessment area to include the full watershed, have hosted biannual public planning meetings, held annual workshops and lecture series, and provided annual maintenance trainings for town staff and volunteers, and we’re not done yet.”

This project has supported the town of Barnstable in addressing water quality improvements in this watershed and is one piece of a larger program of work underway. “The Cape-Wide Water Quality Management Plan updated in 2015 highlighted that Three Bays is significantly impacted by stormwater from the watershed. The study indicated that approximately 23% of the watershed “controllable” nitrogen comes from stormwater runoff and fertilizer use and these green infrastructure projects, through the partnership with APCC and Horsley Witten Group have been a major step in reducing the impact that stormwater runoff has on the Three Bays.” The town is hoping to continue the success of this project and has applied for additional state funding to complete construction of another stormwater system in the Three Bays watershed next spring.

“The design of green infrastructure can be functional and attractive” said Michelle West, senior water resources engineer at the Horsley Witten Group. “At one end of the spectrum, the newly constructed grassy swales along South County Road will look like part of a natural roadside landscape once the plants are fully grown. At the other end, the bioretention garden at the Cotuit library was designed to be educational and interactive, encouraging kids and adults alike to play around, and even in the garden on stepping stones, granite blocks, and logs. The design of each system was developed to fit the needs of the location whether that be protecting viewscapes, avoiding impacts on parking, minimizing maintenance needs, or providing educational opportunities.”

Working with the Barnstable libraries as well as other local groups including the Barnstable Land Trust, the Cotuit-Santuit Civic Association and the Barnstable Association for Recreational Shellfishmen has allowed the project to expand the reach of its messaging and provide more educational programming to the public. The Cotuit Library is the recipient of a $8,975 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, that is helping to jointly fund educational programming related to the stormwater garden constructed there in 2020. The library has hosted storytimes and story walks in the garden, held a recent garden tour this June, purchased monitoring equipment for the garden, and has an upcoming rain garden workshop to be hosted with the team in August. The project has also installed smaller demonstration rain gardens at the Osterville and Sturgis libraries and has funding to continue to support education and outreach into next year.

Planning, design and construction for this project has been funded by the Environmental Protection Agency Southeast New England Program Watershed Grants through a collaboration with Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management Coastal Pollutant Remediation Grant Program and in-kind contributions from the project team.

“Restore America’s Estuaries is pleased to support this project through our partnership with the US Environmental Protection Agency,” said Tom Ardito of RAE. “The use of green infrastructure is growing dramatically regionally and nationally, and the Three Bays Project is a great example of how this approach can provide multiple benefits for communities and ecosystems — a principal goal of Southeast New England Program (SNEP) Watershed Grants.”

“Since 1996, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management has awarded more than $12 million to communities in the coastal watershed, leading to the construction of over 150 projects to treat nutrients, bacteria and other pollutants in stormwater runoff,” said CZM Director Lisa Berry Engler. “Projects like this one in Barnstable serves as a great example of the Baker-Polito Administration’s dedication to create a true collaboration between the state, municipalities and local partners, which leverages state and federal funding to successfully implement wide-scale efforts to keep our coastal waters clean and healthy.”