In this section we outline the issues and strategies for each of the six goals. The purpose is to introduce the issues and strategies, to provide context for the prioritizations in Section 3. More details on the issues appear in Appendix C, “Issues Background.” The previous round of goals appears in Appendix D. Corresponding previous accomplishments appear in Appendix E.
Goal 1: Foster Sustainable Development (people-oriented)
Issues: The Grow Smart North Shore report serves as the NCW comprehensive Open Space plan. It is available on the NCW website, www.NorthCoastal.net .
The more general goal of sustainable development raises
numerous transportation-related issues. The Blue Line (MBTA) is proposing to
expand through Rumney Marsh to
Strategies Several years ago the Metropolitan Area Planning
Council (MAPC) and its North Shore Task Force (NSTF) sponsored a Harvard School
of Design project to investigate the potential to create a metropolitan open
space system for the Greater Boston Metropolitan region and adjoining areas of
· a network of interconnected existing preservation areas, new preservation areas, riparian corridors setbacks and a harbor walk as the means to consider the needs and character of the region’s resources and people;
· address the needs of the regional ecology; address the issues of water quality and quantity; address the rich cultural heritage of the region; and
create a realistic, regional open space reserve
Several NCW team members were active in the formulation of this project and the subsequent presentations to local officials and the public. It was the consensus of the team that Grow Smart North Shore could effectively serve as the NCW comprehensive Open Space plan. Planning for growth and community preservation has been an active component of the Watershed Team’s activities.
“Open Space Residential Design” (OSRD) is a rezoning method intended to implement greater open space within the same population density. Numerous documents on OSRD methods, bylaw changes, and zoning concepts are included on the website, under the heading of “Conservation Subdivision Design.”
Some NCW team members were active in programs to support
local agriculture on the
Goal 2: Conserve habitat and wildlife (nature-oriented)
Issues The long history of development and alteration within
the watershed has placed much of the natural resources at risk. The Team has
identified as a priority the restoration of degraded wetlands and the reopening
of productive shellfish resources. Estimates compiled for the EOEA 2002 Report
“The State of Our Environment – A Special
Report on Community Preservation and the Future of our Commonwealth”
indicate that the Commonwealth will have about 9.75 million people at buildout,
or about 3.5 million more than today.
The primary concern is that the ongoing land fragmentation, resulting from continuing economic
development, more specifically housing growth, will seriously endanger the
biodiversity within the Commonwealth and the North Coastal Watersheds. The
Natural Heritage Program of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife examined the
entire landmass of the Commonwealth, reviewed all existing data on the native
species that live in
Strategies The extensive alteration of the waterbodies and landscapes within the watershed often precludes the ideal application of land acquisition and establishment of protected conservation easements. Often these sensitive habitats require the imposition of remedial measures to restore some of their biological and ecological functions to better reflect a more natural condition.
· The NCW team is generally supportive of the concept of “The Natural Flow Regime.” This approach recognizes the importance of natural streamflow variability in maintaining healthy aquatic ecosystems.
· Integrate the concept of biodiversity into the MWI program elements (which are still supported by EOEA).
· Promote a thorough review and study in and around both surface and groundwater water supplies to insure that drawdowns needed for water supply protection cannot be so great that they wipe out the wetlands and in-stream flows to maintain biodiversity.
· The NCW team will support on-going projects and foster new projects in the watershed targeted to restoring or remediating degraded streams, wetlands, reopening productive shellfish beds and promoting conservation of eelgrass beds.
· In the past, support has largely been in the form of site assessment and the writing of endorsement letters to the various funding sources. However, future projects do not preclude involvement in active restoration or remediation projects.
Goal 3: Improve water quality and human health issues
Issues: The waters within the North Coastal Watershed generally
do not support their desig
Sections of the North Coastal watershed have extensive areas
of impervious surfaces created by dense housing developments, roads and
commercial parking areas. The runoff from these areas alters the water quality
and biological integrity of areas once noted for anadromous fish runs, swimming
and shellfishing. In the more urbanized areas of the NCW, particularly in the
Salem Sound and
Thermal discharges from two major NPDES permittees located on opposite shores of the Saugus River Estuary may adversely impact fish migration as well as egg and larval development. A total of 25 waterbodies both fresh and marine are listed on as impaired waters (DEP 1996 303d list) (See Appendix D).
The North Coastal Watershed has five municipal sewage treatment facilities and several large industries, all of which are classified as major dischargers under the NPDES permitting program. Record keeping and updates on the actual number and status of minor NPDES permits needs to be updated. DEP/DWPC/NERO was responsible for overseeing a number of Administrative Consent Orders filed against municipalities and business for noncompliance with both State and Federal Water Quality Laws and Regulations. Changes in program management and personnel had lead to a lack of “up to date oversight.”
Human health issues relate not only to water quality but to air quality as well. Several community members cited air emissions as a potential cause of illness. While this report focuses on water-related issues, the comment section of the website and the associated video include discussions of other health issues.
Hence the term “health” in this category means both human health and healthy aquatic systems. That includes anadromous fish issues, for example. This category should be interpreted broadly, to include aesthetics as well.
Strategies: Develop a plan and financing to supplement the monitoring efforts of DEP/WSM, DMF, SSCW and SRWC by engaging additional partners, providing communication linkages between the respective programs and expanding the list of water quality parameters.
· Provide direct technical assistance for DEP/DWPC/NERO compliance activities by the collection of water quality samples, biological assessments and flow measurements.
· Promote the coordination and pooling of all federal, state and NGO efforts and tailor some of the sampling. This would enhance the individual group efforts towards meeting their targeted goals and provide a more comprehensive assessment of conditions within these targeted areas.
· Find resources to assist DEP and EPA in the review and comment of compliance reports, daily reporting requirements, and previous studies, update files and follow up on previous permit recommendations and requirements to issue protective NPDES permits for the nine major NPDES permittees.
· NPDES permits should contain specific limits and monitoring requirements for pollutants that impair water quality. The limits should be set so that the receiving water meets applicable water quality standards.
· NPDES permits should conform to EPA's guidance document: Watershed-Based - National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System - (NPDES) Permitting Implementation Guidance - August 2003 - Draft
· Develop and implement a plan to provide subwatersheds with comprehensive condition assessments and plans to maintain or improve the water quality and quantity.
· EOEA should issue its Revised Water Policy as soon as possible.
The EPA’s TMDL loading limits, while sometimes
criticized as onerous, do provide specific num
Goal 4: Better water management / flood control
Issues The NCW does not have a unified water supply or well
field located within the watershed. A number of communities have access water
rights to the
The high population density places demand on the water supply resources in the drainage basin, even though several municipalities actually derive their water supply from surface or groundwater sources outside of the North Coastal Watershed. Projected water demand at buildout for municipalities will exceed presently permitted supply by 12,600,000 gallons per day (gpd). Data compiled from (EOEA 2002 The State of Our Environment – A Special Report on Community Preservation and the Future of our Commonwealth).
An area of significant concern is the
The town of
· DEP/Drinking Water Supply personnel need to update files and permits issued to all registered water users.
Develop and implement a plan to protect
watershed lands around water supplies. But the drawdown needed for water supply
protection cannot be so great that they wipe out the wetlands and in-stream
flows that maintain the Commonwealth's biodiversity. Watershed plans must
employ a better balance between public water supply demands and desig
· Water suppliers need a program to help them in securing funds for Watershed Protection.
· Encourage public water suppliers and DEP regulators to implement water conservation measures such as leak detection installation and calibration of water meters. While providing a valuable resource to the communities at great cost savings, water conservation measures also help communities meet one of the general water conservation practices under their Water Management Act permits.
· Develop and implement a flow monitoring program to provide accurate and reliable data on flows in most of the subbasins. Subwatershed assessments and plans are needed to provide the basis for protecting these resources.
· Suggest inclusion of flow monitoring as a standard parameter during all water quality assessments.
Goal 5: Foster recreational use of natural resources and economic growth related to recreation.
Issues: The team had not previously identified the element of recreation as a specific priority issue to be addressed by the team. Often it is embedded or included in open space planning and habitat issues. It is currently included because of the large number of people who participate in water-based recreation in the NCW area and because of the large number of public comments that were recreation-related.
In particular, the NCW includes several of the
Strategies. Because of the many popular beaches in the NCW, the
Watershed Team includes economic issues in this section as well. High-use
beaches provide financial resources for local communities, but in addition, the
recreational benefit accrues to local residents directly. More usable beaches
and waterways provide greater recreational benefit – and many of the best
recreational resources in NCW are degraded. Their improvement would have an
immediate economic benefit and could be the basis of several economic studies.
For example, cleaning
1999, the Watershed Team participated in a series of workshops and
presentations with DCR (DEM) and Salem
State College on a study of
· Beginning in 1999, the Friends of Lake Quannapowitt has held a watershed awareness program with an outdoor classroom for all children that graduate the public school system.
· In 2003, the Chebacco Lake Association wrote a series of articles in the Hamilton-Wenham Chronicle to publicize the issues about the lake. The lake has high mercury levels and problems with noxious plants including nonnative plants (fanwort).
· While the two goals of clean beaches suitable for swimming and shellfishing is admirable, the two activities are not compatible in the same time period. Water quality monitoring and publicizing the results as well as sanitary surveys by MDMF can make this a reality.
Goal 6: Local capacity building, integration between groups, outreach, and education
Issues: The North Coastal Watershed enjoys an active citizenry often organized at the local level and generally dealing with specific or regional environmental issues. It was discovered that there is no single environmental issue affecting all of the citizenry—rather, the issues and concerns are localized. Virtually all of the environmental agencies under EOEA have a significant presence in the watershed. Communication between the various levels of government, sister agencies and local community partners is inconsistent. The Department of Environmental Protection through its regulatory authorities plays a central role in protecting and improving environmental conditions for a host of issues, such as water pollution control, wetlands protection, water supply, solid waste management, and hazardous waste management. Particularly successful at interacting at the grassroots level were, DFG (DFWELE) through their Stream Team Program and CZM/NS which provides proactive leadership and assistance in growth management, outreach programs and grants management.
Three Local Governance Committees
(LGCs) Salem Sound
Strategies: Identify the communities working in the North Coastal Watersheds. Channel outreach and education efforts through the local governance organizations and environmental groups, strive to develop a pattern of reciprocal communications. Model outreach efforts employed by DFG (DFWELE), Massachusetts Audubon Society and CZM/NS to fit NCW needs. Maximize the exchange of information between team members and collaborative through electronic mail systems. As contacts are established with local officials invite them to join the team. Prioritize problems within the sub-regions, map out strategies to effect positive change, solve problems at the sub-watershed level and make the North Coastal Team relevant to the needs of all constituencies.
Rather than focusing on establishing a “NCW team identity”, a choice was made to facilitate existing programs wherever possible and provide additional resources to supplement or augment existing community efforts:
· Support and encourage growth of local constituencies.
· Keep all groups apprised of appropriate grants and other funding.
· Encourage the development of working partnerships between team members.
· Provide letters of support for funding opportunities consistent with the watershed team’s objectives.
Where possible, the
watershed team will support local activities such as river clean-ups. In the
opinion of the previous Watershed Team Leader,
this was the single most effective outreach tool employed, when the watershed
team was able to link this with evidence of anadromous fish spawning. This was
the case in the
The Watershed Team should consider itself the central information source for coordinating activities between local watershed and community groups. The NCW contains many such groups that would benefit from coordination, particularly information-sharing and funding source information.
As a result of this project, the NCW Watershed Team will produce a video about the watershed. It will be appropriate for periodic broadcasting on local cable stations, at high school environment classes. The intent is to distribute the video to libraries and high schools as a means of outreach.
The public input detailed in Section 3, while topical and of interest to the public, does not necessarily reflect the views of the Watershed Team. In general, the public is much more concerned with health issues and recreational issues. Similarly, city and town officials are generally most concerned with local flooding and water flow issues. Watershed groups are generally most concerned with water quality issues and ecological issues.
Our recommendations attempt to reconcile the needs of all three groups. The most likely users of the recommendations, watershed groups, can interpret the recommendations about topics primarily of interest to the public as a means to improve public outreach.