Falmouth Pond Coalition

To Protect and Preserve Falmouth’s Freshwater Ponds through
Organizing, Partnership and Education

Facebook

Follow Us on Facebook

iNaturalist App

For those wanting to learn about what plants, birds, and other animals live around their ponds, we encourage you to consider using iNaturalist. You can learn more at https://www.inaturalist.org/ and by using this instructional video. Learning about the life in and around your pond can help you know what animals are disappearing, warn you about growth of invasive plants, etc. 

Current Projects

Urine Diversion Pilot Project Informational Meetings 

The Town of Falmouth will be conducting a urine diversion pilot project. If you are interested in attending an informational meeting to learn more about the study, please send a note, including your property address to falmouthudstudy@gmail.com. You can also call Kim Comart at 617-548-6442.  

Five Ways to Preserve the Health of Your Pond 

See this new document we produced for our recent forum. https://www.falmouthpondcoalition.org/resources/homeowners/preserving-your-pond

Learn About Water Issues - Join a Tour!

The Falmouth Pond Coalition organizes educational tours to increase understanding of issues affecting fresh and saltwater ponds, rivers, estuaries, and bays in Falmouth. Among the sites we visit are the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center in Mashpee. Please contact us at falmouthpondcoalition@gmail.com if you are interested in either of these tours or if you have other educational sites to recommend. 

Saving our Waters by Installing Eco-Toilets and Urine Diversion Devices

Keeping urine out of our ponds, rivers, estuaries, and bays will do more to protect our waters than anything else we can do, including banning the use of fertilizers, installing Innovative/Alternative (I/A) septic systems, limiting road runoff, etc. Eco-toilets that divert urine or incinerate waste are a great option. Check out these links for the Wostman Eco-Flush and the Cinderella Comfort. Please contact falmouthpondcoalition@gmail.com for more information.   

In the News...

Falmouth Enterprise – May 31, 2024

Water Quality Advocates Want To Make UD Project Less Restrictive

 

A urine-diversion study is on the horizon and the Falmouth Water Quality Management Committee has wrestled with the details of how it might work, specifically whether homeowners participating in a pilot project would have to swap out all their toilets for urine-diverting devices.

 

Members discussed the topic during their meeting on May 22, two days after the select board approved an agreement with the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center for a urine-diversion feasibility study.

 

The study, funded with $80,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, will address unanswered questions about a potential town-funded urine-diversion pilot project. The three-year project would gather data from up to 75 participating households to measure the effectiveness of the practice and give the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection information on whether urine diversion is a technology that could effectively replace expensive innovative/alternative septic systems.

 

Urine diversion is a wastewater management method in which urine is collected instead of being flushed down the toilet. Nitrogen and phosphorus are nutrients found in human pee, so diverting urine from the waste stream lowers the amount of those nutrients that can make their way into the town’s estuaries. That would help the town meet state requirements for Falmouth and other Cape Cod towns for reducing nitrogen in local watersheds in coming years.

 

The scope of work for the feasibility study includes drafting a homeowner agreement that will outline any town subsidies for participants to sign and determining if there are at least 60 homeowners willing to install at least one urine-diverting toilet in their homes and use it exclusively.

 

Participants would not be allowed access to traditional toilets for the duration of the four-year pilot project. Test center representatives and committee members have said this is the best way to accurately collect data on the effectiveness of urine diversion as an alternative to septic systems and sewers. Otherwise, MassDEP might not accept the results of the pilot project, discounting any diverted urine from counting toward the town’s total nitrogen reduction efforts.

 

It was that last point that generated most of the discussion at the meeting. Member Thomas Duncan said the water quality management committee has been working on the details of the potential urine diversion study for several months and one of its lasting sticking points was requiring participants to replace their regular toilets with urine-diverting technology.

 

“I think it’s an onerous burden and it’s going to discourage participation if we require full replacement of traditional fixtures,” Mr. Duncan said.

 

He wondered if the water quality management committee would be able to weigh in on decision-making throughout the feasibility study.


Board member Stephen Leighton said the town’s contract with the septic system test center created a liaison group made up of representatives from not just water quality management committee but the town manager’s office and the Fresh Water Ponds Advisory committee. He added that in the group’s first meeting, test center representatives wanted all the toilets in a participating household to be converted to urine-diverting toilets, but other members pushed back. They argued that the expense would deter households from signing up. They came up with a compromise to have all the other toilets aside from the urine-diverting toilet disabled and ready to be hooked back up in case anything went wrong during the study.


“Would there be any provision to allow participation by people that didn’t disable their toilets?” Mr. Duncan asked. “You’re still going to collect valuable data and it’s the closest to the real world that we’re going to get.”


Details like those are still being worked out by the test center and the liaison group. Kim Comart, a member of the Fresh Water Ponds Advisory Committee who was in the audience, said he hopes the liaison group can work with the test center to make sure participants have lots of options for how many toilets they could keep or convert.


“It’s not a theoretical technology, it’s a proven technology,” Mr. Comart said. “The more people who are doing urine diversion, whether it’s one toilet or all their toilets, more people in Falmouth will learn about this technology.”


Mr. Comart said if the homeowners are restricted too much by losing access to their toilets, the pilot project will not do as well and the town could miss out on nitrogen reduction in waterways. Mr. Duncan said he thought the town would still be able to collect data on how effective urine diversion is regardless of how many toilets are converted.

“If someone is cheating the system after they got excused from putting in a traditional innovative/alternative septic system, you would know right away,” Mr. Duncan said.


Nancy F. Sowell of Hatchville said as a consumer and someone who is interested in participating in reducing waterway pollution, she still would not want to replace all of her toilets, either just for the pilot study or permanently.


“I haven’t had one, I haven’t tried one,” Ms. Sowell said of a urine-diverting toilet. “It makes a change in the house and I haven’t used one yet.”


Mr. Leighton asked if she would change her mind if the urine-diverting toilets had already been approved by the state as a substitute for innovative/alternative septic systems. Ms. Sowell said she would want to try it out first before changing all of her toilets.


“The biggest issue is social acceptance,” Ms. Sowell said.


Hilda Maingay, one of the strongest advocates for the urine-diversion pilot project, said the point of the project is to divert as much nitrogen and phosphorus from waterways as quickly and cheaply as possible and collect the data to prove it.


“Can you imagine changing three bathrooms?” Ms. Maingay said. “The stress people would go through? It’s not reasonable.”


Committee member Ed Jalowiec told audience members that if they were interested in participating in the study, they should reach out to the town manager’s office for consideration.


See full article at:

https://www.capenews.net/falmouth/news/water-quality-advocates-want-to-make-ud-project-less-restrictive/article_2900a2d5-036d-5b23-83fb-f53a57169926.html


Falmouth Enterprise – May 24, 2024

 

Two Birds With One Tiny House - Editorial

 

The town is facing two major problems, and the solution to one often exacerbates the other: wastewater and affordable housing. Unless a development is on the town sewer, opposition to affordable housing (whatever other motives may be in play) can legitimately be grounded in the fact that more toilets will further degrade our coastal ponds.

 

But a possible route to increasing rental housing stock without environmental damage exists: tiny houses and accessory dwelling units with urine-diverting toilets.

 

See full editorial at:

https://www.capenews.net/falmouth/eedition/page-f4/page_8551cd16-c087-548e-9b94-2ec066548c8d.html

Falmouth Enterprise - May 24, 2024

 

Falmouth Moves Forward With Study To Answer Questions About Urine Diversion Pilot

 

The select board this week approved an agreement with the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center for a urine diversion feasibility study. 


The study aims to provide answers to questions Town Meeting voters had about a urine-diversion pilot project, when they decided not to approve it last month. The four-year pilot project would gather data from up to 75 participating households to measure the effectiveness of the practice.


See full article at:

https://www.capenews.net/falmouth/eedition/page-f1/page_21fa3b31-fdd6-5c95-b49a-00c3c4ebdca2.html

Town’s Freshwater Ponds Get A Vote Of Support – Letter -- April 26, 2024

 

It was fitting that this past Monday, Earth Day, the select board approved six candidates for the newly established Freshwater Ponds Advisory Committee. Their votes represented a major milestone and expression of support for Falmouth’s 75+ freshwater ponds.

 

The committee will help raise awareness of the importance of protecting our freshwater ponds and will work with our town manager and select board to integrate pond protection strategies into Falmouth’s strategic plan. By doing so, the committee will help affirm the responsibility of the town government to actively engage in freshwater pond protection.

 

Kim Comart

Strand Way

East Falmouth


See full letter at: https://www.capenews.net/falmouth/opinion/town-s-freshwater-ponds-get-a-vote-of-support---letter/article_ff2b0456-cf9c-5eda-948f-eaad68533a12.html

Falmouth Enterprise - April 26, 2024

 

Falmouth Adopts Resolution Recognizing The Rights Of Nature

 

The select board this week made Falmouth the first community on the Cape and one of only a half-dozen municipalities in the nation to adopt a resolution recognizing that humanity is a part of nature, is responsible for nature’s care and should recognize nature as having the right to exist, persist, regenerate and be restored.

 

The resolution acknowledges Cape Cod’s unique landscapes—from its coastlines to its aquifer—and establishes the global climate change problem and an ever-increasing need to address the crisis.


See full article at: https://www.capenews.net/falmouth/news/falmouth-adopts-resolution-recognizing-the-rights-of-nature/article_ee5cf63e-1269-54ee-9a7b-1bce3bb5e2b1.html

 

Falmouth Enterprise - March 15, 2024

Town Management Takes Reins On Urine-Diversion Project

Falmouth town staff are working to resolve questions hanging over a proposed urine-diversion pilot project after the finance committee last week said it would recommend indefinite postponement of the idea at April’s Town Meeting.The plan is to bring the article back with all questions answered by the November Town Meeting.

Town manager Michael Renshaw told the select board during its meeting on Monday, March 11, that staff began meeting with Article 22 petitioners—Hilda Maingay, Earle Barnhart and members of the Falmouth Pond Coalition—after the finance committee said it had many unanswered questions concerning the program. Committee members generally said they supported the premise of the article, but they needed their questions answered. Mr. Renshaw said he and the assistant town manager plan to take the lead on making sure that all the details of the project come together for November’s Town Meeting.

See full article at: https://www.capenews.net/falmouth/news/town-management-takes-reins-on-urine-diversion-project/article_f8ef711b-731a-521d-97b1-3ecd4a031d70.html. 

Falmouth Enterprise - Feb 9, 2024

Falmouth Water Quality Committee Endorses Urine-Diversion Pilot


The water quality management committee officially recommended that the select board support a citizens petition article that would fund a urine-diversion pilot project. The committee and its partners have been planning this pilot for months, and Town Meeting members will vote on whether to appropriate $1.9 million for the project in April. 


See full article at:

https://www.capenews.net/falmouth/news/falmouth-water-quality-committee-endorses-urine-diversion-pilot/article_ca4dfc0b-c4fc-59bf-8d91-9765523a65bd.html. 


Falmouth Enterprise - Feb 2, 2024

Putting Urine To Work For Us 

By Hilda Maingay and Earle Barnhart 

Most of the nitrogen and phosphorus in our wastewater that pollutes our ponds and estuaries comes from one concentrated source: urine. A full 80 percent of the nitrogen in the wastewater is from urine, but urine is only 1 percent of the volume of residential wastewater—120 gallons per person per year. If that urine is diverted from the waste stream and collected, it will not go into the environment and pollute downstream ponds and estuaries. But if Falmouth does a urine-diversion pilot project and diverts the urine of 100 people from 50 homes, the question arises, “What do you do with that urine?” 

See full atticle at: https://www.capenews.net/falmouth/columns/putting-urine-to-work-for-us/article_b967ca90-5a8d-57de-94cc-7eef9655d947.html 


Falmouth Enterprise - Feb 1, 2024

Falmouth Select Board Creates Committee To Champion Town's Fresh Water Ponds 


The Select Board voted this week to create a new freshwater ponds advisory committee, tasked with finding solutions to pollution that is stifling freshwater quality across Falmouth.

 

This committee will be the first of its kind in protecting the town’s freshwater ponds. Town Manager Michael Renshaw suggested the select board appoint five committee members when it interviews prospective candidates at a future meeting. The board will vote on committee members once residents have had the opportunity to see the advertisements and apply to volunteer.


See full atticle at:

https://www.capenews.net/falmouth/news/falmouth-select-board-creates-committee-to-champion-towns-fresh-water-ponds/article_9dc22ce4-4cfc-5fc7-b137-53e54a0ee742.html. 


We would like to thank The Falmouth Enterprise for their commitment to local journalism and hope you'll help them continue to cover critical environmental issues by being a subscriber and patronizing and thanking their advertisers. 

Local Water & Ecological Partners

Logo: Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Logo: Falmouth Water Stewards