Oct 30, 2019

Massachusetts Resort’s Wastewater Under Fire for Clean Water Act Violation

Wequassett Resort finally reaches a settlement agreement as Wychmere Resort awaits a decision for a similar lawsuit alleging violations of the federal Clean Water Act. 

Wequassett Resort finally reaches a settlement agreement as Wychmere Resort awaits a decision for a similar lawsuit alleging violations of the federal Clean Water Act. 

Massachusetts Wequassett Resort and Golf Club reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit brought by the Conservation Law Foundation after the resort allegedly violated the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) by discharging treated wastewater into Pleasant Bay, according to Cape Cod Times.

Wequassett Resort agreed to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant to reduce nitrogen flow into the bay. It will also contribute money to land conservation, restoration, water monitoring, education and other nitrogen reduction efforts, reported Cape Cod Times

The Cape and Islands are part of an effort to clean up coastal and inland water bodies contaminated by wastewater from septic systems, according to Green Cape.

“We’ve always considered ourselves to be a good steward...and considered the health of Pleasant Bay a critical issue and important for our guests,” said Wequassett managing partner Mark Novota to Cape Cod Times. “We’ll continue to improve our existing technology to do the best job we can possibly do.”

The foundation also sued Wychmere Resort under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act because the discharge of treatment plant wastewater met the definition of open dumping, violating the CWA. A decision will be issued soon, reported Cape Cod Times.

“The Conservation Law Foundation decided to pursue the only dischargers in the watershed that are actually treating their waste, spending a lot of money to treat their waste, achieving state standards, and are responsible for only 2% of the nitrogen (in Wychmere Harbor),” said Jeffrey Porter, an attorney representing Wychmere.

Reports done under the Massachusetts Estuaries Program found that residential septic systems contributed 81% of the nitrogen that reaches the harbor. Nitrogen deposited from the air accounted for 3% and the resort was estimated to add 2%, according to Cape Cod Times.

“My clients are responsible for 1% less than what comes out of the sky,” Porter said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for them to be the poster child for what is wrong on the Cape.”

Nevertheless, the Conservation Law Foundation believes that large businesses should be held to higher standards required under federal law. 

“These large resorts can set an example for other corporate polluters by cleaning up their wastewater pollution now,” said the foundation

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