Heights Targeted for Ocean Outfall Pipe

On Monday, 4/10/23, Town Meeting Members will vote on Article 25 that focuses on¬†¬†upgrades to the Town’s waste-water plant and would appropriate an initial $4.5 million to fund the design of an expansion of the Teaticket/Acapesket sewer area ultimately¬†requiring an expansion of the Town’s leaching beds to the north of the treatment plant on Blacksmith Shop Rd.¬†(See the full text with recommendation¬†from the April 2023 Town Meeting Warrant Booklet below).

Article 25 is viewed as a¬†short-term¬†solution to the Town’s disposal of treated waste-water.¬†The Town’s current modern treatment plant removes nearly 95 percent of the¬†nitrogen¬†while¬†the remaining 5 percent of nitrogen¬†enriched¬†waste-water has been pumped into in-ground leaching beds.¬†The problem¬†with this has been that the subterranean flow of this effluent has travelled westward and found its way into West Falmouth Harbor resulting in a¬†nitrogen¬†overload situation.

The long-term solution to this problem, as recognized by many, would be to install an Ocean Outfall Pipe which would take the effluent offshore where it would be defused and diluted and flow out to sea.

¬†The original thought¬†was to direct an Outfall Pipe into Buzzards¬†Bay, the shortest distance to the ocean from the treatment plant. This idea however has been met with serious opposition from the Save Buzzards Bay Coalition due to the fact that the Bay is already hosting outfall pipes from the other side, and because Buzzards Bay does not, excuse the term, “flush” well with the tide.¬†Therefore, the Town has for some time been looking into the possibility, and evaluating the installation of a large Outfall Pipe (of approx. 18-24 inches diameter) into¬†Vineyard Sound.

At the Water Quality Management Committee (WQMC) meeting on March 20,2023, a presentation was made giving a preliminary report on their evaluation of a Vineyard Sound location for an Outfall Pipe. Sites for such an Outfall Pipe were considered and evaluated between Nobska Point to Maravista.  Nobska Point, Elm St, Mill Rd, Maravista Ave and Shore Rd, and then were eliminated due to lack of Town controlled land, Moraine (rocks), presence of electric cables to Martha’s Vineyard, underwater drilling distances required and other factors. The studies have thus far indicated that the Falmouth Heights area would be the most feasible considering offshore current, tidal flow, and eel grass areas.

 The Outfall Pipe would be Horizontally Directionally Drilled (HDD) to extend 2000 to 3000 feet into Vineyard Sound most likely from a preferred location at the Kite Park as this is the shortest distance to get beyond eel grass and into a strong offshore current. Land area required for HDD is also a major consideration in site selection. Falmouth Heights Beach (Central Park and Worcester Ave Park) are also possibilities, however longer HDD would be required in order to clear the eel grass areas.

At the WQMC meeting on April 3, 2023 the committee voted unanimously in favor of permitting and implementing an Outfall Pipe in Vineyard Sound as the method of discharge of treated wastewater for all of Falmouth sewers. (See related recent Enterprise articles below).

 From the April 2023 Town Meeting Warrant Booklet


To see if the Town will vote to appropriate a sum of money to fund the engineering, design and permitting of the collection and transmission system and expanded treated wastewater discharge area for Phase 1 of the Teaticket-Acapesket Service Area, including costs incidental and related thereto, and to determine how the same shall be raised and by whom expended. Or do or take any other action on the matter. On request of the Select Board.

RECOMMENDATION (Finance Committee): That the sum of $4,500,000 is appropriated to fund the engineering, design and permitting of the collection and transmission system and expanded treated wastewater discharge area for Phase 1 of the Teaticket-Acapesket Service Area, including without limitation, all other costs incidental and related thereto; that to meet this appropriation the Treasurer with the approval of the Select Board is authorized to borrow $4,500,000 and issue bonds or notes therefor under Chapter 44 of the General Laws and/or Chapter 29C of the General Laws; that the Treasurer with the approval of the Select Board is authorized to borrow all or a portion of such amount from the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust established pursuant to Chapter 29C and in connection therewith to enter into a financing agreement and/or security agreement with the Trust and otherwise to contract with the Trust and the Department of Environmental Protection with respect to such loan and for any federal or state aid available for the project or for the financing thereof; that the Select Board or other appropriate local body or official is authorized to enter into a project regulatory agreement with the Department of Environmental Protection, to expend all funds available for the project and to take any other action necessary or convenient to carry out the project; and that the Select Board is authorized to contract for and expend any federal or state aid or other funds available for the project, provided that the amount of the authorized borrowing shall be reduced by the amount of such aid received prior to the issuance of bonds or notes under this vote. Approval of this Article


Articles recently in the Enterprise:

March 10, 2023¬† – “Buzzards Bay Coalition opposes Town Sewer Plans¬† – Calls for Ocean Outfall Pipe”

March 31, 2023 – “Ocean Outfall Pipe Best Solution – Notes From An Ecologist”

April 4, 2023 –¬† “Falmouth Water Quality Management Committee Votes for Ocean Outfall “

April 7, 2023 – “Water Quality Committee Votes for Ocean Outfall