Everything You Need to Know about Wastewater
Yarmouth is a beautiful place to live, visit and play! We’re surrounded by oceans, rivers, and ponds. To save this precious place where we live, we need a wastewater plan. Article 18 will allow the Town to construct Phase One of the Town’s sewer project, which includes pipe installation and building the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Why do we need a Wastewater Plan?
- The lack of an effective wastewater infrastructure and 722% increase in population between 1951–2010 has led to environmental deterioration due to nitrogen pollution.
- Nitrogen pollution is primarily caused by a reliance on septic systems to handle our waste.
- The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) will require property owners in nitrogen sensitive areas (most of Cape Cod) to upgrade even new and functioning Title 5 septic systems to extremely costly Innovative/Alternative (I/A) systems (also known as nitrogen removal systems).
- Towns may obtain a Watershed Permit from MassDEP to avoid residents having to upgrade their septic systems.
- Yarmouth’s wastewater project is MassDEP’s #1 ranked project for statewide funding!
A YES vote on Article 18 will:
- Help save and restore our precious environment for future generations.
- Save property owners from costly I/A systems.
- Revitalize the Route 28 corridor and maintain economic viability for Yarmouth.
- Position Yarmouth for the future.
- When is Town Meeting and where will it be held?
Tuesday April 25, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. Mattacheese Middle School, 400 Higgins Crowell Road, West Yarmouth.
- What are voters being asked to approve in connection with wastewater?
Voters will be asked to approve the appropriation $207.2 million to construct Phase One of the Town’s sewer project, which includes pipe installation and building the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
- Why is this project beneficial for all of Yarmouth?
The project’s purpose is to reduce nitrogen loading to rivers, bays, and harbors through the discontinued use of on-site septic systems in portions of Yarmouth. The treatment of the associated wastewater with enhanced nitrogen removal would remove a potential threat to drinking water quality, protect sensitive resource areas, shellfish and indigenous plant species decimated by accelerated growth of nuisance plants and algae, while simultaneously promoting revitalization of the Route 28 corridor and Yarmouth’s overall economy.
- Is the sewer project being financed via property taxes like the 2011 proposal?
No. Multiple opportunities will make up the funding sources, including Cape &Islands Water Protection Trust, District Improvement Financing (Article 19), user capital fees, low or zero interest (0%) financing, state and federal grants and betterment charges.
- What is the cost of doing nothing?
The cost of doing nothing would present regulatory ramifications, potential to third party lawsuits, effects on residential properties and business and tourism.
- Once approved, when does work commence and when will Phase One be completed?
The Phase One projected start date is September 2023. Projected construction end date is June 2026.
- What does approving this project do in relation to the new DEP septic regulations I’ve heard about?
The Town’s wastewater project (DEP approved) is the best step the Town can take to avoid property owners throughout town from having to upgrade existing Title 5 systems with expensive Innovative/Alternative (I/A) systems (soon to be required by the Department of Environmental Protection) which do little to reduce nitrogen into our environment.
- What section of Yarmouth is in Phase One?
To see the Phase One map, click here.
- How much is this going to cost me?
Voters will be asked to approve the appropriation of $207.2 million to construct Phase One of the Town’s sewer project. Most of Phase One is focused on commercial properties and the Route 28 corridor. There are 8 phases to the project. Every property that must connect will incur betterment, connection costs, and sewer charges.
- What is a betterment fee and how does it impact my property?
A betterment fee calculates a fair proportion of the project costs to property owners within Phase One. Much of Phase One encompasses the Route 28 corridor, therefore much of the costs are borne by commercial properties (many are hotels and restaurants). Our project calculations show the following examples (all over 30 years):
- A 50-room hotel will be $8,500 annually
- A 50-seat restaurant will be $2,704.55 annually
- A single-family home with up to three bedrooms will be $510 annually
- A two-bedroom condominium is $340 annually
The town is limiting the betterments to 15% of the project costs. This lowers the obligation to property owners. This is possible because the Town is using available funding sources to help lower the betterments to property owners.
- What phase of the wastewater project is my property located?
To see the map of all phases, click here.
- What do I do with my septic system after I connect?
The Board of Health has yet to determine, but you will likely be able to fill your septic system and leave it underground.
- Will I be allowed an extra bedroom/additional flow if I connect to the sewer?
725,000 gallons has been reserved for additional flow; how that may be allocated has yet to be determined.
- When will I be able to connect?
Each phase will take approximately 5 years to complete.
- Are there programs to help property owners pay for this?
For connection costs, Barnstable County has created a low-interest or no-interest loan called the AquiFund. The Cape Cod 5 has a sewer connection loan and other financial institutions have products to help you pay for sewer connection costs. The betterment fee to the town will be at a low interest rate and can be stretched over a 30-year period and is transferable with any sale of the property.
- Will all of Yarmouth be connected to the sewer?
No, only the nitrogen sensitive areas of Bass River, Parkers River, and Lewis Bay area.
- What happens if my septic fails and needs to be replaced before my property is in “its phase” or if I sell my property and it fails to pass Title 5 and I’m in a later phase?
The Health Department is prepared to work with property owners in these cases. This may involve more frequent septic tank pumping, or other significant system maintenance procedures. Property owners in future phases (after Phase One) will likely need some type of septic system repair to allow them to use their septic system until a sewer connection is available. This will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, property owners may need a full system replacement, but the Health Department will likely allow the property owners to use those new septic systems for an extended period before requiring them to connect to the sewer system.
- I had heard we were working with Dennis and Harwich on a regional approach. Is that still the case?
The Town of Yarmouth previously explored the possibility of a regional wastewater project by partnering with the towns of Dennis and Harwich. The Town of Yarmouth needed to move forward to take advantage of the most economical opportunities available for the residents to begin environmental restorations. Future phases may involve additional regional discussion.