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Two local marinas are vowing to do just that. Long a part of our nautical history, marinas symbolize everything Cape Cod. But many of these marinas were built at a time when we weren’t aware of the damage to shellfish beds caused by toxicity from run-off, or how crumbling septic systems and waste from boats cause harmful nitrogen buildup in the water. As marinas look to modernize and update their facilities, law requires that they implement environmental solutions to safeguard our waterfront. Kingman Yacht Center in Bourne and MacDougall’s Cape Cod Marine Service in Falmouth are both pioneers in the green movement.

Scott Horsley, president of Horsley Witten Group, an environmental consulting firm in Sandwich, worked with both marinas to develop “Smart Growth” plans for the future. “Marinas by nature havehigh-intensity waterfront uses with the potential to have environmental impacts,” says Horsley, whose firm does work nationally for the Environmental Protection Agency and also prepared the “Smart Growth Tool Kit” for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The term “Smart Growth” refers to a way of planning formixed-use (residential and commercial) development that is pedestrian-friendly, helps to preserve open space, and accommodates earth-saving technologies.

One of the biggest concerns for both marinas was wastewater and storm water treatment. While such improvements can drastically improve water quality in our local harbors, these upgrades come at a price. “These are expensive investments,” says Horsley. “Not too many existing marina owners have that kind of cash. What really needs to happen with our Cape marinas is an increase in density— allowing them to expand their capacity or increase their slips, for example—to generate the revenue to pay for the wastewater and storm water treatment plants.”

At Kingman Yacht Center, part of the Smart Growth plan includes adding a residential development to a parcel of land adjacent to the marina. “The town homes would share a wastewater treatment facility and allow Kingman to pay for the plant fees,” says Horsley. He adds, “We look for solutions that benefit both the town and the business.” Other plans, such as vegetated green strips, are low-impact technologies that will substantially improve the water quality in Red Brook Harbor, where Kingman Yacht Center is located.

“Marinas have the power to be stewards of the environment,” says Scott Zeien, president of Kingman Yacht Center. “Our businesses rely on maintaining the waterfront. It’s in our best interests to make our marinas as green and clean as possible.”

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