Falmouth Water Stewards, formerly known as Falmouth Associations Concerned with Estuaries and Saltponds (FACES), was incorporated on January 7, 1994 as a 501c3 non-profit organization. The organization was officially formed some years earlier by a group of Falmouth citizens who had become increasingly concerned about the deteriorating state of our bays and estuaries due to nitrogen pollution and were determined to do something about it.
Since then, FWS has expanded its focus to include fresh waters and pollutants other than nitrogen, although nitrogen pollution remains a top priority.
FWS has been involved in numerous initiatives concerned with protecting local water resources, including supporting the work of the Ashumet Plume Citizens Committee, establishing the Falmouth Friendly Lawn Program, establishing the long-running PondWatch water quality monitoring program, the results of which are published each week in the Falmouth Enterprise, developing the ‘Keep It Blue’ stormwater runoff education campaign, and most recently, establishing the Water Stewards Program, in which citizens are encouraged to adopt a local water body and become involved with ongoing monitoring of its health.
One of our primary concerns is wastewater management in Falmouth. Unlike most cities in the United States, only a small percentage of Falmouth’s households are sewered — the remainder rely on septic systems, which remove very little of the water-degrading nitrogen (or other pollutants) in wastewater.
In 2005 and 2006, the Massachusetts Estuaries Project (MEP) conducted a series of studies in which they assessed the health of Bournes, Green, Great, Oyster and Little Ponds and West Falmouth Harbor (click here to view the reports). These TMDL reports spell out the dramatic reduction in nitrogen loading required to return each pond to a satisfactory condition and meet State environmental water quality guidelines.
As a result of these reports and in recognition of the growing threats faced by our waters, the Town began to develop a Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan. FWS has been a major player in the Town’s efforts to develop this plan and, in fact, two FWS board members sat on the Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan Review Committee in 2011. Through the work of the MEP and later the CWMP, it became clear that In order to accomplish the necessary levels of nitrogen reduction, the most densely populated areas of Falmouth would need to be sewered. The Town voted to begin this effort in April 2014 with the passage of Articles 27 and 28, which authorize the development of sewering in the Little Pond Area.
The town is also exploring the use of strategies such as inlet widening in Bournes Pond, eco-toilets, permeable reactive barriers and shellfish aquaculture to address nitrogen in certain areas and has demonstration projects underway in all of these areas.
FWS will continue to raise awareness about the deteriorating health of our coastal areas and solutions to this problem by participating in conferences, inter-organization meetings, seminars, public displays at events and as guest lecturers at local community organization meetings, initiating educational campaigns like our Keep It Blue stormwater project and our work in local schools, collecting oral histories of local citizens and scientists, developing our new Water Steward Program, publishing its semi-annual newsletter, posting relevant articles and updates on our website, and ensuring the continuation of the PondWatch program. To support FWS in its critical work of protecting our fresh and coastal waters, please become a member now by clicking here.