Barnstable Clean Water Coalition Tackles Water Quality Crisis

The Environmental Non-Profit Formerly known as Three Bays Preservation, Inc. Evolves into Town-Wide Organization 

Osterville, Cape Cod, Mass. – A flagship environmental non-profit founded in Osterville in 1996 has now evolved into a new town-wide organization dedicated to restoring and preserving clean water in marine estuaries, ponds, rivers, and coves throughout Barnstable.

Before a packed community Open House in Osterville on June 23, Zenas Crocker, the new executive director of Barnstable Clean Water Coalition (, unveiled the vision for morphing into a town-wide entity. “Monitoring, Education, Advocacy and Mitigation will be the four cornerstones of this rescue mission to save impaired bodies of water throughout Barnstable,” Crocker explained.

Excess nitrogen leaching from septic systems in marine embayments and freshwater ponds powered the decision to evolve, added Crocker. Other causes of water pollution include road runoff from lawn fertilizers, detergents from washing cars and doing laundry, as well as other metals and hydrocarbons.  

Another way to look at the marine crisis is that every day nitrogen equal to sixty-five 50-pound bags of fertilizer flows into the 1,251-acre Three Bays Estuary alone that encompasses North, West and Cotuit Bays. In fact, nitrogen levels far exceed critical levels established by the Massachusetts Estuaries Project (MEP.) Nitrogen also pours into Cape Cod Bay and other marine estuaries within the Town of Barnstable.

BCWC will continue to collaborate closely in its expansion on water quality sampling through UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) as well as working with other science institutions and like-minded non-profits. “The Coalition is now town-wide because the issues we face as a community can be acutely addressed by expanding our mission area to include the whole town,” Crocker clarified.

Up until recently, BCWC was Three Bays Preservation, Inc., founded in 1996 to dredge areas around a treasured barrier island and undertake conservation, science and policy initiatives in and around the watershed that encompasses West, North and Cotuit Bays. Now that BCWC is town-wide, the organization will pivot to include Barnstable’s entire 75-plus square mile area. 

“The emergence of Barnstable Clean Water Coalition marks a new era in water conservation on Cape Cod,” remarked Michael J. Egan, president of the Board of Directors. “We will explore time-honored methods of restoration and Non-Traditional Technologies (NTT’s) will also be in our restoration arsenal,” Egan added. 


Barnstable Clean Water Coalition (BCWC) works to restore and preserve clean water in the Cape Cod Town of Barnstable. For more information please visit:; phone 508-420-0780, or email