DEP Concludes Title V/Watershed Permit Comment Period

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has concluded their public comment period for the proposed voluntary Watershed Permit and updated Title V proposed regulations.

The new regulations are designed by MassDEP to enhance protection of embayments and estuaries—particularly on Cape Cod, the Islands and Southeastern Massachusetts—from nitrogen pollution originating primarily from wastewater. These new regulations are part of the proposed lawsuit settlement between the Conservation Law Foundation and MassDEP, the Town of Barnstable, and the Town of Mashpee.

The proposed Title V Regulations would require ALL HOMEOWNERS in the affected areas to upgrade to an Innovative Alternative (IA) septic system within 5 years. However, a homeowner's septic system will generally be exempt from this mandatory 5-year upgrade if your community seeks and ultimately obtains a Watershed Permit for that watershed.

CCIAOR and the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS both provided comments to DEP by the January 30 deadline offering the real estate industry’s thoughts on the proposed regulations.

CCIAOR’s comments outlined support for the watershed permit, but cautioned against the Title V changes outlining various reasons:

  • Proposed Title V changes will not necessarily mean towns will meet water quality goals and yet, comes at great cost to homeowners;

  • Cost to comply comes at significant cost to homeowners with no identified funding source and raises equity concerns;

  • Proposed regulations only exempt I/A systems installed within the last year

  • The 5-year timeline for upgrades is simply not feasible in today’s technology and workforce climate;

  • Proposed upgrade schedule does not consider when a septic system was installed or what system exists today

Many Cape Cod towns, including Falmouth, and Yarmouth, have submitted comments objecting to the extreme nature of these regulations and the proposed burden on homeowners, which echo CCIAOR’s concerns.