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Posted Wed Aug 18 2010: from New York Times:
Cape Cod Waterways Face Pollution Crisis
Rising nitrogen levels are suffocating the vegetation and marine life in saltwater ponds and estuaries on Cape Cod, creating an environmental and infrastructure problem that, if left unchecked, will threaten the shellfishing industry, the tourist economy and the beaches that lure so many summer visitors. More than 60 ponds and estuaries on the cape and a few elsewhere in the region have been choked by algae and seaweed. The culprit is nitrogen, much of it leaching out of septic system wastewater that runs through sandy soil into the estuaries. Faced with a federal mandate to fix their polluted waterways, Cape Cod towns have spent years creating plans to clean up the wastewater, largely through sewers and clustered septic systems.... The root of the problem lies in the popularity and unchecked growth of Cape Cod over the last 30 years. Towns chose not to install sewers when the government helped subsidize them in the 1960s and '70s, fearing that it would lead to an influx of people. Newcomers arrived anyway and sprawled out, using individual septic systems to get rid of waste. "We've reached capacity for the watershed," said Lindsey B. Counsell, executive director of Three Bays Preservation, a preservation group in Barnstable. "We're a victim of our own geology."
[Read more stories about: fertilizer runoff, dead zones, overpopulation]

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Cape Cod? As a metaphoric microcosm??

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