Bourne is a thoughtful and careful community. We pass and amend our bylaws after careful consideration and evaluation of the consequences. We take pride in our planning efforts like our Local Comprehensive Plan, the current Charter Review and endeavoring on the new Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan. As a community, we are engaged in those planning efforts, which come with extensive information and time for debate and discussion. We also must consider all of our options, and synthesize the results of our studies, before we close the door on any particular avenue.
One article at next week’s Town Meeting, Article 11, seeks to close a door on a wastewater solution before our comprehensive plan and study are complete. Unfortunately, the article states “that the Board of Selectmen and Sewer Commissioners oppose any federal, state or local wastewater permits...and the subsequent disposal by direct discharge of treated or untreated wastewater into the Cape Cod Canal or the waters immediately adjacent thereto.” The article is intended to prevent a larger wastewater flow from a potential regional project to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy outfall pipe into the canal. Literally read as the article is constructed, it would require the board to oppose the existing Mass Maritime wastewater treatment facility, a facility that discharges directly to the canal, which has current state wastewater permits. This article would also require the board of selectmen to oppose existing discharges to the canal including Bourne’s own brand-new wastewater treatment facility, a facility that also discharges to the canal and was permitted by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to discharge to the canal instead of Little Buttermilk Bay. While impacting existing facilities was most likely not the intent of the article, this is the way the article is written, and the wording of our Town Meeting articles do matter as it relates to how we should vote.
When I most recently served you on the board, we embarked on a new comprehensive wastewater plan for Bourne. The plan will look at all of the areas of Bourne, including those that are already sewered, and will provide a comprehensive solution to our wastewater efforts to clean up both our coastal and inland bodies of water. This will allow us to show how we will comply with the Cape’s 208 plan and how we respond to improving our impaired waterways. Some areas will need different solutions than others. We also cannot fundamentally pass an article that prevents our brand-new wastewater facility from operating, without alternative solutions provided. I encourage the voters at Town Meeting to oppose Article 11 as written and allow our current comprehensive wastewater plan to come to fruition and provide the best solutions to Bourne, as we all intended, before we make any wastewater decisions. I do believe we need to keep the environmental and financial impacts alive as we move forward. We passed funding for the comprehensive plan at Town Meeting this past year, and we owe it to ourselves to see those wastewater solutions presented before we know which path to take!
James L. Potter