Tisbury schedules public hearings on new nitrogen regulations

The Tisbury Board of Health is looking to address nitrogen loading in Lagoon Pond and Lake Tashmoo. — MV Times

Tisbury Health Agent Maura Valley told selectmen Tuesday the board of health will hold public hearings for newly proposed nitrogen regulations for all new development within the Lake Tashmoo and Lagoon Pond watersheds. Beginning next week, the hearings will be held at the Tisbury Emergency Services Facility at 6:30 on Thursday, June 16, Wednesday, June 22, and Monday, June 27.

“This is a pretty important thing,” Tisbury selectmen Ms. Loberg said, and encouraged community members to participate.

Under the proposed “no new net nitrogen” policy, property owners would be financially responsible for mitigating the effects of wastewater-based nitrogen that enters the groundwater through an annual fee, based on metered water usage and an estimate that it costs the town $300 to remove a pound of nitrogen from wastewater.

Fees would be triggered by new development, defined by the board of health as “any new structure, the renovation of, or addition to any existing structure and, in the case of commercial and industrial developments, also includes any increase in intensity of use, or any change in use, which generates an increase in human wastewater flow for disposal,” and would cease either after 20 years, when the development is connected to the town sewer system, or when the town successfully removes enough nitrogen to certify water quality standards.

The regulations stipulate that the collected fees will be used solely to remediate, mitigate, reduce, or eliminate nitrogen pollution in Lagoon Pond and Lake Tashmoo and in the portions of Lake Tashmoo and Lagoon Pond Districts that lie within Tisbury town borders.

“The Town of Tisbury’s population has grown to the point where the wastewater treatment infrastructure in place lacks the capacity and/or capability to remove sufficient nitrogen to assure that Tisbury’s ponds and other water resources meet applicable water quality standards as well as provide for the safety of those using those resources,” the proposed regulation states.