Click play below for the presentation on “outfalls” that CPWB President Matt Patrick did before the Falmouth Select Board last Monday the 7th of June, 2021. An outfall is what we call rain water runoff that flows from roads, untreated, directly into our rivers and estuaries.

Matt makes the case that Waquoit Bay along with the Quashnet and Childs Rivers receive the highest level of protection from the Commonwealth. Both rivers are rated A and Waquoit Bay is rated SA for marine water. The A designation means that the rivers at their source have clean, cool, spring fed waters that are ideal for the natural reproduction of native fish and shellfish. However, if a storm flushes polluted water into them an entire year’s worth of reproductive effort by trout, herring, alewives and eels can be destroyed.

There are no other rivers in Falmouth with the same distinction. We need to protect them. Call your Select people to respectfully let them know that it is important that they get the out falls fixed on the Quashnet and Childs Rivers. 508-495-7320.

Watch to find out more.

Did you see us in the Mashpee Enterprise this week?  CPWB recently sent a letter to the Falmouth and Mashpee Select Boards, Conservation Commissions, and Falmouth Water Quality Management Committee alerting them to the extremely dangerous situation developing in our bays and estuaries.  


According to the current plan to mitigate wastewater, it will be 15 years before treatment systems are in place in Waquoit Bay.  CPWB supports the plan, but also offers a few reminders and encourages some action now:


  • Road Runoff Remediation is often overlooked as a minor part of the overall nitrogen problem, but choosing an appropriate and effective technology is important.  Conventional road runoff catchment basins do not remove nitrogen or phosphorus, but vegetated swales that are well maintained do.  Both are permanent improvements not likely to be revisited for decades, so it is important that we make a thoughtful choice about which technology to use with lasting implications for the area served in mind.
  • Storm water runoff is a small contributor of the nitrogen load, but it has an outsized capacity to stress the ecosystem by carrying heavy metals, hydrocarbons, ,and pathogens toxic to fish and shellfish.  Climate change is only going to make this worse and is an imminent danger to our bays.
  • Heavy rain exacerbates the already serious impact of road runoff because it deposits pathogens, metals (from tire rubber), and hydrocarbons (exhaust residue, oils, and other automotive fluids) that kill fish and close shellfish beds and swimming beaches.  That rain is getting heavier over time thanks to Climate Change, which has created more intense rainfall events that deliver more rain over shorter time periods after extended dry spells.  These heavy rainfalls have the potential to cause massive fish kills and shellfish bed closures.


At the very least, there should be no road runoff into any estuary’s watershed, especially Waquoit Bay, which is recognized as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern and a significant nursery for several important fisheries.  There are simple and affordable solutions including vegetated buffers, rain gardens, and infiltration systems that provide effective treatment of stormwater to remove nitrogen and phosphorus among other toxins.


It is vitally important to the marine ecology and tourist industry to protect our bays and estuaries.  CPWB and other local interest groups are committed to documenting the most egregious sources of road runoff to Waquoit Bay and its three tributaries and educating the public about the dangers of runoff and mitigation efforts.  We call on Town boards and committees to recognize and address this potentially disastrous situation now by forming an ad hoc committee to make recommendations and investigate sources of further funding.


You can see our letter in full here.


For Immediate Release

March 12, 2020

Contact:  Matt Patrick, 508-524-4161


Waquoit, The Citizens for the Protection of Waquoit Bay (CPWB) has reorganized with a new Action Plan that will address several sources of pollution in the Waquoit Bay watershed.  The Action Plan includes: mapping road run, installing dog waste bag dispensers, educating home owners about over fertilization of lawns, recruiting trail stewards in coordination with WBNERR, publicizing information about eco-toilets and denitrifying septic systems and organizing the Red Brook River restoration.  These are all within CPWB’s capabilities being a volunteer run and funded non-profit, advocacy organization.


CPWB’s storied past includes saving Washburn Island, South Cape Beach and the Quashnet River Area from environmentally devastating development.  These areas were targets for developers in the 1980’s who wanted to build hundreds of luxury condo units. CPWB was also one of the lead organizations in the Coalition for the Cape Cod Commission Act providing personnel and money capability.  Since that time, it has buckled down to the difficult business of protecting and restoring water quality in the Waquoit Bay Watershed.


We are looking for volunteers for each one of our action items.  For example, Red Brook is the last major tributary to the bay that hasn’t been restored or in the process of being restored.  The Quashnet River has benefitted from restoration by the Cape Cod Chapter of Trout Unlimited since the 1970s. As a result of TU’s work, the original strain of sea run brook trout (along with many other species) have repopulated the Quashnet.  The Childs River is being restored by the Falmouth Rod and Gun Club. Red Brook would benefit greatly from a similar restoration that would remove the dams from the old cranberry bog and get the river back within its banks. This would make it possible for all the anadromous fish to find their way back up the stream to spawn and repopulate.  The Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Reserve, the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife and CPWB want to engage the neighbors of Red Brook in the process.


Anyone interested in volunteering, becoming a member or donating to CPWB can go to our website our Facebook page at Citizens for the Protection of Waquoit Bay or call: 508-540-0981.