Access at seashore locations
The stairs at Nauset Light Beach in Eastham are closed due to storm damage. Herring Cove North Lot in Provincetown sustained damage resulting in closure of multiple parking spaces. The Nauset Marsh Trail bridge was destroyed in a 2012 storm. More »
It is difficult to overstate the importance of water as a resource. Amplifying the importance of water on Cape Cod is the fact that the fresh water supply comes solely from an underground aquifer system that is recharged almost exclusively through precipitation. With this in mind, the Cape Cod National Seashore, in collaboration with the United States Geological Survey, has developed a standardized, long-term methodology of monitoring hydrological activity on the Outer Cape.
The freshwater aquifer of the Outer Cape is bound laterally and below by salt water and is divided into four distinct flow "lenses." These flow lenses are detailed in the map below. Coastal hydrological processes are also of great interest, especially as they relate to salt marsh restoration projects throughout the Seashore.
Climate change, sea-level rise, and increased withdrawal rates from groundwater all have the potential to significantly impact the fresh water resources critical to the human population and the sensitive coastal ecosystems of the Outer Cape. The Seashore's long-term hydrological monitoring program will provide a better understanding of the effects of both natural and human-induced change on groundwater levels of the Cape Cod aquifer.
Reports and Publications:
Potential Changes in Ground-Water Flow and their Effects on the Ecology and Water Resources of the Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts - USGS Report by John P. Masterson and John W. Portnoy
Did You Know?
The Old Harbor Life-Saving Station in Provincetown, MA is one of the few surviving, unaltered life-saving stations left in the country. The station was built in 1898 and is open in the summer months with a display of rescue equipment, and NPS staff re-enact the historic Breeches Buoy rescue drill.