State Senator Mark Montigny of New Bedford and State Rep. Chris Markey of Dartmouth announced Monday on WBSM's SouthCoast Tonight an important development regarding the controversial Title V septic regulations proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

The Democrat lawmakers said after talking with the new Healey-Driscoll Administration that they are "optimistic" the proposed septic regulations will not impact the suburban and rural SouthCoast communities originally targeted by the DEP such as Dartmouth, Westport and Acushnet.

Markey said he anticipates the new regulations will likely focus on Cape Cod.

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Late last year, a robust public comment period began when Montigny, Markey and Dartmouth Public Health Director Chris Michaud began sounding the alarm on the DEP's proposed septic regulations aimed at some SouthCoast communities and all of Cape Cod, with the goal of mitigating nitrogen pollution in estuaries and other coastal waters.

Nitrogen pollution can cause algae blooms that kill fish and other wildlife by using up all of the oxygen in the water.

Public officials and residents in the SouthCoast were primarily concerned that the regulations, if implemented, could cause individual homeowners to incur great financial cost to install new septic systems that reduce nitrogen output.

Courtesy MassDEP
Courtesy MassDEP

Michaud had previously told WBSM that the exact costs for these new septic systems would depend on each homeowner's situation, but could cost residents up to $50,000 each.

The SouthCoast lawmakers argued in a letter to the DEP in December that the agency's proposals showed "many shortcomings" and that it didn't make sense to lump together the SouthCoast and Cape Cod given their different different population demographics, topography, and coastal needs.

Ultimately, after an extended public comment period by DEP, multiple additional public information sessions, and conversations with the Healey-Driscoll Administration, Montigny and Markey said they were confident enough in what they have heard from the corner office that they could put SouthCoast homeowners at ease.

Markey said he arrived at this conclusion based on his work with Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll's staff.

"My conversations with the Lt. Governor's Chief of Staff and that crew is they was they were concerned about it," Markey said on SouthCoast Tonight. "They were aware of Chris (Michaud)'s efforts and his expertise in it and him really understanding the ins and outs of it."

"I think when you look at it all, it's probably more likely that these things will be addressed more towards the Cape rather than on the SouthCoast," Markey said.

Montigny agreed with Markey, but said they will still stay focused until there is an official ruling from the administration.

"Whether it's homeowners, or town officials, or people like Chris and myself, we'll be vigilant until we see this carve out," he said.

Montigny also drew attention to legislation he filed cosponsored by Markey, Westport Rep. Paul Schmid, and others that would ensure homeowners will not bear the cost of new Title V regulations by DEP.

Karissa Hand, spokesperson for Governor Maura Healey, told WBSM that they are continuing to get input from communities on the proposed regulations.

“Our administration continues to engage with communities and local officials as MassDEP finalizes Title V regulations," Hand said. "We share a common goal of protecting our environment and protecting residents from significant cost burdens.”

Listen to Sen. Montigny and Rep. Markey's full comments on SouthCoast Tonight:

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