Compare Listings

Construction on Nantucket Part 2: City vs. “Country” Services


Building on Island

Brian Sully Sullivan
unnamed image

Now that we touched on zoning and allowable footprint in Part One: Finding the Right Property to Build of this Nantucket construction blog series, let’s talk about available Nantucket services: city vs. country.
Nantucket services

Water on Nantucket:

Nantucket has amazing fresh water quality from both the municipal service and from private wells. The town, via Wannacomet Water Company, services the Downtown, Mid Island, Hummock Pond, Cisco, Madaket, Surfside, Miacomet and ’Sconset areas. Sections like Wauwinet, Pocomo, Quidnet and Polpis all have private wells. Luckily, most areas enjoying the same high-quality water that comes from our aquifer located not far from the Town’s main rotary. Nantucket services

Sewer vs. Septic on Nantucket:

This is a moving target, so depending on when you are reading this, things may have changed some. I will touch very quickly on these items but if you want to get into greater detail, I am happy to chat or point you in the direction of the right person. And as an FYI for those of you who may be wondering, our sewer plant is located in Miacomet at the end of South Shore Road.

Many of Nantucket’s core district areas, as well as a significant portion of  ’Sconset, are currently serviced by sewer. When you live on a property that is serviced by town sewer, you are not restricted to the number of bedrooms you can have in the allowed footprint (as described in Part One of this series). Now let’s talk quickly about on-site disposal systems known as septic systems.  Here are the the Town of Nantucket sewer districts:

[gview file=”” width=”1280px” height=”600px”]

There are areas on island that are serviced by town water and septic systems. I won’t pretend to understand how the calculations for creating these systems work. But I do know that it largely depends on the ground soils. Some parts of Nantucket are just all sand and others are full of clay not allowing the soil to “perk” its best to enlist a local engineer to test the soils and design a system to meet your needs. I do know that you will get more bedrooms on a septic system with Nantucket Town water.

Town Water and Septic Systems

There are areas on island that are serviced by town water and septic systems. This is different than town water and sewer. They are designated as such largely in in part to the type of ground soils in the area. Some parts of Nantucket’s soil are all sand while others are full of clay, not allowing the soil to “perk.” I would recommend enlisting a local engineer to test the soils and design a system to meet your needs. However, you will get more bedrooms on a septic system with town water instead of a private well.

Now a quick word on systems serviced by a private well and a septic system. The general guideline is that you can have 1 bedroom for every 10,000 sq. ft. of land. For example, a one-acre lot – 40,000 sq. ft. – can have a 4 bedroom house in the 2800 sq. ft. footprint mentioned in Part One. Nowadays, the technology has improved and the engineers have designed “advanced” systems that will meet the necessary requirements, so sometimes you may be able to push your plans above the State of Massachusetts guidelines outlined above.


Nantucket works hard to maintain and improve the water quality of its harbors and natural resource areas. In fact, an effort is currently underway to bring sewer to districts that haven’t had it before. These areas are sensitive harbor and water shed districts. They are Madaket, Monomoy, Shimmo, Hummock Pond and the Somerset area. Sewer is planned to come to Monomoy and Shimmo in 2-3 years, and this coming fall, the body of Town Meeting will vote to bring sewer to Madaket and Hummock Pond. Until the time that sewer comes to these areas, there are local requirements for septic systems. I defer to the very talented local land engineers and surveyors to help you design and understand these systems. Please call us at Fisher if you would like a referral.

Additionally, there is no city gas on Nantucket. All gas is delivered by private companies to individual on-site storage tanks.

If you already enjoyed PART ONE and PART TWO of our construction series of blogs, read PART THREE: TIMING YOUR BUILD.

Written By

Brian Sully Sullivan

2024 is Brian’s 27th year in the Nantucket real estate market, and with over two decades of experience, he is a top producing agent on island.