JOINT BASE CAPE COD — The machine gun range being proposed for Camp Edwards would be built over the Sagamore Lens, the largest in the Cape Cod aquifer and the main source of drinking water for the four towns on the Upper Cape as well as Barnstable and Yarmouth.
And before the range project can move forward, it must secure the approval of a panel established to protect the water.
In 2002, state law established the 15,000-acre Upper Cape Water Supply Reserve to make sure activities at the military base would not negatively impact the water running beneath it.
Years of cleanup of both soil and water have been required at Camp Edwards, due to contamination from past military activities there.
The 2002 state legislation created the Environmental Management Commission, which operates within the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, to oversee permanent protection of the drinking water supply and wildlife habitat of the reserve.
Military and other activities on the reserve are secondary to water protection and allowed only when they have no impact.
In a letter to the National Guard dated Sept. 25, the commission’s executive director, Leonard Pinaud, said he would not recommend project approval at this point due to “potential significant adverse environmental impacts and inconsistencies” he found among the various environmental submissions made by the Guard.
The proposal, contained in a 100-page environmental assessment prepared for the Massachusetts Army National Guard and an accompanying draft finding of no significant impacts, calls for clearing 170 acres of forest and disturbing about 199 acres