MASSTC In The News

MASSTC in the news? We’re doing our best to make positive ripple effects wherever we go! Learn more about what we do below.

The Cape Cod Chronicle, EcoToilets, Cranberries, And More At Brewster Pond Coallition’s Annual Summit

“Bryan Horsley led a highly informative discussion on one of the most damaging sources of pollutant, waste processing and disposal. With a background in environmental science and ecological preservation, Horsley is a project assistant at the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center. Horsley began by highlighting the nutrient loading issue when algal blooms in freshwater are fed and exacerbated by nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, two elements found in abundance in human urine and fecal matter…”

Cape Cod Times, Cape Cod needs a better bridge to a sustainable environmental future

“There is a joke among local wastewater professionals that says Cape Cod is headed for a “Sludgemageddon.” What’s that, you ask? Well, with all the talk about wastewater treatment, we are headed for a total blindside hit from this phenomenon: a situation where sludge disposal will have a large financial impact on municipalities, businesses and residents.”

WCAI, Environmental advocates plan to sue EPA, could lead to ‘Sludgement Day’ on Cape Cod

“Environmental advocates are planning to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for not regulating sludge.Sludge is the solid material that’s left over at the end of the wastewater treatment process.Treated sludge, (biosolids), is used as a fertilizer, but it contains the harmful ‘forever chemicals’ PFAS, which don’t break down and have been linked with cancer.”

Wall Street Journal: Why Your Septic System Will Not Be Ignored

“Your septic system will not be ignored. You may want to ignore it. It’s designed to be ignored—buried somewhere in your backyard, like a shameful secret or a mortal enemy who has mysteriously “disappeared.” But there is only one thing worse than personally interacting with your septic system and its component parts—the septic tank and leach field—and that is ignoring it.”

Scientific American (Video): Cape Cod Has a Big Problem Simmering Just Below Its Surface

“There’s going to be bad smells. There’s going to be fish kills. There’s going to be a lot of algae getting entangled in your boat, in your propeller, in everything. And it’s not a nice view, you know…. So in a way, we’re decreasing the value of the land, which is precisely the same value that brought people here to enjoy an enjoyable summer.” The “yellow tide” under the Cape is rising. So…what is it?

WBUR: Cape Cod needs to clean up its water. The solutions could cost billions

Brian Baumgaertel, director of Barnstable County’s Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center, said sewers are the “gold standard” for removing contaminants but aren’t right for every community.

“Here on Cape Cod, we have areas that are dense where sewering would make sense because it’s economical,” he said. “And then we have vast swaths of Cape Cod that are so sparse in population — or even moderate density — where the cost of running sewering pipe down the road in all of those neighborhoods is incredibly cost-prohibitive.”

Falmouth Enterprise: Urine Diversion Pilot Planning Continues In Falmouth

“The purpose of the urine-diversion pilot project is to see whether this is a viable method for reducing nutrient pollution in Falmouth. Concerned residents have been calling for a pilot program like this for some time, and recently the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center submitted a proposal for such a program. Now, the committee is assessing that proposal as it works toward making a recommendation to the select board.”

WCAI/NPR: Cape Cod researchers study removing PFAS from the waste stream

“The Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center, or MASSTC, is a premier site for wastewater research located on Cape Cod.

“Some of their tests involve adding woodchips to septic systems to help remove nitrogen from the environment, but could those woodchips also be used to remove the “forever chemicals” PFAS from the waste stream?”Some of their tests involve adding woodchips to septic systems to help remove nitrogen from the environment, but could those woodchips also be used to remove the “forever chemicals” PFAS from the waste stream?”

Falmouth Enterprise: Urine-Diversion Pilot Study Pitched To Falmouth Water Quality Committee

“The Cape’s septic system test center pitched a urine diversion pilot project to Falmouth’s water quality management committee last Wednesday, August 30. The purpose is to assess the potential benefits of community-scale urine diversion as a way to reduce nitrogen pollution in coastal waters, caused mainly by wastewater flowing from septic systems.”

WCAI/NPR: Recycling urine to solve our wastewater problem

“The state and EPA have mandated that the Cape manage wastewater to prevent nutrient overload in our ponds, estuaries and embayments. Alternative septic systems and sewering are both expensive options. On The Point, we discuss another choice: urine diversion, or “no mix” toilets. They’re cheaper and provide free fertilizer. But will people go for them?”

Falmouth Enterprise: Urine-Diversion Enthusiast Prepares For Falmouth’s Pee

“If Falmouth Town Meeting approves money for a urine-diversion pilot project, then where—if not down the tubes—will the pee go? And who will be in charge of putting it to use? Enter the Massachusetts Advanced Septic System Test Center and Bryan Horsley, 42, the center’s resident eco-sanitation, or ‘ecosan’ enthusiast.”

Boston Globe: Pollution is threatening Cape Cod’s famous waters. Its towns are spending hundreds of millions to head off an environmental disaster.

“Communities have two years to opt into a permitting process. If they don’t, new septic systems in the watershed would be required to include enhanced nitrogen-reducing technology, and homeowners would be on the hook to upgrade existing systems within five years.

‘It’ll force those towns to move quicker on those plans than they may have originally thought,’ said Brian Baumgaertel, a senior environmental specialist at the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment….”

Falmouth Enterprise: Officials Will Bring Teaticket Sewer Back To Town Meeting -This Time With A Urine Diversion Pilot Included

“The pilot program will be conducted by the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center, which outlined a proposal to the Water Quality Management Committee in May. The program must involve at least 50 Falmouth properties, which would provide data on urine volume, nitrogen and phosphorus content and gray water. Funds for the project would be appropriated by Town Meeting.”’s Sunday Journal: Barnstable County Highlights Water for April

County Senior Environmental Specialist Brian Baumgaertel joins Sunday Journal this week to discuss programs including the low-interest loan program “Aquifund” that can help replace aging systems, testing services, and combatting PFAS.

Boston Globe: As pollution worsens on Cape Cod, some are investing hopes in a new type of septic system

“We’re not looking to unnecessarily divert funding from sewering projects,” said Brian Baumgaertel, director of the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center, a division of Barnstable County. “We are looking for the most economical and socially equitable solution to help fix what is a slow-moving environmental disaster.”

New York Times: A Toxic Stew on Cape Cod: Human Waste and Warming Water

“Septic systems work well where homes are too sparse to justify expensive sewers and water treatment plants. About 95 percent of the Cape’s properties use them. But they don’t filter out nitrogen or phosphorus, which seeps into the groundwater and, eventually, bodies of water. Enter Mr. Baumgaertel’s outdoor laboratory of sewage management.

Mashpee Enterprise: Septic System Test Center Makes Strides Toward Better Safeguarding Cape’s Water

“Outdated and environmentally unfriendly septic systems and cesspools are the norm on Cape Cod. Although most people would rather avoid the topic of where their waste goes after it has been flushed, the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center is not afraid to take on the issue directly.”

The Nature Conservancy: Experimental Solutions to Reduce Nitrogen Pollution on Cape Cod

“The New England way of life depends on our water quality. Everything from our drinking water and food to recreation and the economy depends on healthy, clean water flowing from streams to our coasts and into the ocean. Unfortunately, the impacts of climate change and development are threatening the places we love and rely on.” Nitrogen-Sensing Technology Making an Impact on Cape Cod

“The Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center recently announced that testing conducted at the facility over the last three years has aided in the development of an award-winning sensor for measuring nitrogen discharges from innovative and alternative (I/A) septic systems.”

Provincetown Independent: Outer Cape Gets First Taste of Septic ‘Layer Cake’

“The Massachusetts Estuaries Project found that septic systems are responsible for 80 percent of the controllable nitrogen load on Cape Cod. The authors of a 2012 Barnstable County Dept. of Health and Environment report noted, ‘Cape Cod’s designation as a sole source aquifer means that all drinking water sources are part of a contiguous groundwater supply that hydraulically connects wastewater discharge sites to drinking water sources.”’

Want to help us keep MASSTC in the News? Schedule an interview! Contact Brian Baumgaertel by email at or by phone at 774-330-3019.