Press Release

GreenCAPE Releases Survey of Cape Candidate’s Positions on Cape Water Issues

Post Date- August 24, 2016

Media contact: Sue Phelan --508.362.5927, 508.494.0276


GreenCAPE, a Cape-based grassroots non-profit, released the results of a survey today detailing the views of candidates currently running for Cape and Islands public office re:

1-the controversial herbicide spraying on private property by the public utility Eversource,

2-the contamination of the Hyannis drinking water supply with perfluorinated compounds,  

3-the potential problems with certain wastewater disposal options from contaminated effluent and sludge relative to the Regional Wastewater Management Plan (Section 208).

GreenCAPE submitted a brief 7 question survey to candidates for major races directly affecting Cape Cod and Islands and achieved an overall response rate of 52% (33% rate from Republican candidates and 64% from Democratic candidates.)The survey revealed that 92% of all respondents would join the towns of Barnstable County in opposing NSTAR herbicide spraying of electric utility rights-of-way on private and municipal property and most support non-chemical methods of maintenance above the Cape’s EPA-designated Sole-Source Aquifer. All 15 Cape towns have previously passed non-binding resolutions opposing the Eversource herbicide spraying. None of the candidates that responded were opposed to non-chemical means of maintaining the electrical easements and several encouraged the use of goat grazing in lieu of herbicides. A majority of respondents supported the placement of more monitoring wells in the area of the Barnstable County Fire Training Academy and biomonitoring of the population served by the affected wells for perfluorinated compounds. Expansion of the capability of the County Laboratory to test for perfluorinated compounds and other contaminants of emerging concern was also supported with few exceptions.  Many survey respondents expressed concern about the proposed ocean outfall pipes for wastewater effluent and land application of sewage sludge from Cape wastewater treatment plants and saw merit in higher levels of treatment.

GreenCAPE works with concerned citizens, organizations, and communities intent on preserving and protecting the Cape Cod and Islands region from the unintended consequences of pesticides and other toxic chemicals in current commerce–both regulated and unregulated. The organization strives to eliminate the use of dangerous chemicals and their negative impacts-especially on fetal and child development where exposure can result in life-long consequences. This goal is accomplished, in part, by educating the public and elected officials. The organization encourages the use of nonpolluting products by households, businesses and agriculture wherever feasible, to reduce pollutants that can impact our living environment- air, soil, water - and ultimately human health. GreenCAPE compiles information about toxic chemicals including pesticides and disseminates this material through informative free events, films, a website and social media while encouraging alternatives to pesticides, safer lawn care products/practices and healthier cleaning products, and supporting cleaner technologies. The mission of GreenCAPE rests on the premise that public awareness is the most effective of all the long-term forces for influencing the health of the Cape environment, residents, fisheries, and the local tourist economy. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization GreenCAPE does not endorse or contribute to candidates, but conducted this questionnaire and published the results for the benefit of GreenCAPE members and the public so they might be more fully informed when making decisions regarding candidates in the upcoming elections.

Survey Questions

(By your “support”, we mean that, assuming other details of potential action are not inconsistent with your principles, you would sponsor, cosponsor, vote for, request, sign, testify in favor of, or otherwise publicly support the following and potential related legislation.  For those seeking election to offices other than the state legislature, we also ask if you would support specific local action related to the issue.  We invite you to elaborate on each answer, such as explaining the reasoning behind your position or any special insights you may have on the issue based on your personal background or experience.)

Issue #1 Background: All 15 Cape Cod towns have passed resolutions requesting the public utility NSTAR/now Eversource to permanently abandon herbicides to clear vegetation on the utility rights-of-way (aka easements). These easements are on lands held by municipalities or private landowners who are not agreeable to the spraying of their properties. 78% of public water supplies on Cape are potentially impacted by this annual spraying program. No baseline water testing has been conducted and no water monitoring for this suite of chemicals is planned.    Past electric utilities have successfully maintained control of vegetation on their Cape and Islands easements without employing herbicides on privately owned lands above the aquifer.

1a     If elected-would you join all 15 towns of Barnstable County in opposing the herbicide spraying of electric utility rights-of-way on private and municipal property above the Cape water supply?

Answer:   Yes     No        Explanation

1b     If elected-how would you promote and support the use of non-chemical alternatives for rights-of-way vegetation control that do not pose a threat to the water supply, tourist economy, fisheries, and the health of residents of the Cape and  Islands? 

Answer:   Yes     No          Explanation

1c     Have you accepted- or would you accept- campaign contributions from NSTAR/Eversource, Northeast Utilities, or any of its affiliates? If so, please specify the amount.

Answer:   Yes     No         Explanation


Issue #2 Background:  The Town of Barnstable has filed a lawsuit against Barnstable County for contamination of several Hyannis wells with PFOS/PFOA, which have polluted the groundwater and drinking water wells which supply water for the largest city on Cape Cod.

2a     Will you lend your support for  the placement of additional extraction wells to monitor the current pollution and insure no further pollution reaches the Mary Dunn well field?

Answer:   Yes     No         Explanation

2b     Will you support biomonitoring of the affected population served by the Hyannis Public Drinking Water System given the health information in the EPA’s Supporting Documents for Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFOS and PFOA?

 Answer:   Yes     No         Explanation

2c     Will you vote to authorize establishment of a county laboratory to test for pesticides and other contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) like PFOS/PFOA in the local drinking water supply and in wastewater effluent and sludge? 

Answer:   Yes     No         Explanation



Issue#3 Background: Drinking Water/ Wastewater: Cape Cod’s final Section 208 Areawide Water Quality Management Plan Update was developed as a watershed-based approach to restore embayment water quality on Cape Cod. The plan recommends         strategies, regulatory reforms and a process for communities to reduce or eliminate excess nitrogen-- the primary cause of degraded conditions. However, conventional water and wastewater infrastructure approaches—including big-pipe water, storm water, and wastewater conveyance and large treatment plants—may not be environmentally or fiscally sustainable into the future.

3     Recognizing that pharmaceuticals, metals, pesticides and other persistent pollutants from wastewater treatment plants can be redistributed in effluent and sludge and thus can recontaminate drinking water, humans, fish and wildlife, will you support alternatives to the proposed ocean outfalls for wastewater effluent and land-based applications of sewage sludge from Cape wastewater treatment plants and support secondary, tertiary, or quaternary wastewater treatment as necessary?

Answer:   Yes     No         Explanation