Pleasant Bay Watershed Permit

The historic Watershed Permit sets the stage for effectively addressing nitrogen pollution and helping safeguard the life of the Bay. The permit outlines the steps the Towns will take individuals and collectively to address nitrogen pollution, which is the biggest threat to the health of the Bay. The permit is the result of a collaboration of the Towns of Brewster , Chatham, Harwich and Orleans, Pleasant Bay Alliance, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, US EPA and Cape Cod Commission.

The nitrogen removal technologies proposed under the permit include a combination of traditional technologies such as sewers, and non-traditional approaches such as shellfish aquaculture to be implemented over forty years. The Watershed Permit will allow the towns to obtain permit authorization to use non-traditional technologies, and also provides a process for crediting towns with the nitrogen removal that actually occurs.

It is an honor that the four towns that share the Pleasant Bay watershed are the first in Massachusetts to receive a Watershed Permit and it would not have been possible without the vision and support provided by town officials, volunteers and Town Meeting voters who recognize the value of working together to preserve our beautiful shared resource.

The Alliance serves as regional coordinator for selected Watershed Permit implementation actions.  In this capacity, the Alliance prepares and submits the required annual reports to Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Cape Cod Commission. The following Watershed Permit Guidebook provides information about the process of developing a watershed permit, and insights on issues that multiple towns need to be ready to address if participating in a watershed permit. The guidebook also describes some of the innovations that were facilitated by the Pleasant Bay Watershed Permit. All of the pertinent documents and reports mentioned in the guidebook are provided below.

Watershed Permit Documents:
Pleasant Bay Watershed Permit
Pleasant Bay Targeted Watershed Management Plan
Pleasant Bay Watershed Permit Intermunicipal Agreement
Letter of application to Massachusetts DEP
Determination of Consistency with the 208 Plan

Pre-permit Composite Analysis and Town Resolution:
Pleasant Bay Composite Nitrogen Management Analysis 2017
Resolution of the Towns Sharing the Watershed of Pleasant Bay

Watershed Permit Annual Reports to MassDEP and Cape Cod Commission
2021 Pleasant Bay Watershed Permit Annual Report
2020 Pleasant Bay Watershed Permit Annual Report
2019 Pleasant Bay Watershed Permit Annual Report


Regional Watershed Permit Implementation Project funded by Southeast New England Program Watershed Grants:

The Alliance has received funding from the Southeast New England Program (SNEP) Watershed Grants in 2018 ($250,000) and 2020 ($132,050) to support Watershed Permit implementation. Funding has been used to support multiple projects including an update of the Massachusetts Estuaries Project Linked Model. Information on SNEP-funded implementation projects is provided below.

SNEP WG18 Task 1A. Municipal I/A Program:
Fact Sheet
Final SNEP Task 1A Report_200730 210203
Implementation of an Onsite Septic System Treatment Program for the Pleasant Bay Watershed

SNEP WG18 Task 1B. Lonnie’s Pond Shellfish Project:
Fact Sheet
SMAST-LonniesShellfishAnnualReport_parts 1-2 Submission_Final Jan 2020
Lonnie’s Pond Aquaculture Management Plan

SNEP WG18 Task 2. Nitrogen Trading Pilot Project:
Fact Sheet
Pleasant Bay Alliance Report on Nitrogen Trading Opportunities Among Watershed Towns, 2021

SNEP WG18 Task 3. MEP Linked Model Update 2021:
Executive Summary
Massachusetts Estuaries Project Linked Watershed-Embayment Model to Determine Critical Nitrogen Loading Thresholds for the Pleasant Bay System, Orleans, Chatham and Harwich, Massachusetts 2020 Update

SNEP WG20 Task 1. Watershed Modeling Scenarios (In process)
Fact Sheet

SNEP WG20 Task 2. Nitrogen Credit for Stormwater Management: (In process)
Fact Sheet

SNEP Stormwater Technical Assistance Network Tasks

Pleasant Bay Alliance – Regional Stormwater Management Bylaw Review

Pleasant Bay Alliance – Stormwater and Community Resilience Funding and Financing Strategy