It is fair to say that environmental protection became a “national priority” with the passage of the Federal Clean Waters Act (FWCA) PL 92-500 by Congress in 1972. The Federal Clean Waters Act stated objective is “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters” (Environmental Law Reporter 1988). The Act further required each State to develop information on the quality of its waters and report that information to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Congress and the public.
Some of the relevant agencies and programs follow, along with definitions of terms and regulations.
The multitude of conflicting and competing uses that we
expect our waterbodies to address were identified as desig
Watershed Management plans serve as the chief source of information in developing a priority ranking system to address these numerous problems.. The Act and subsequent revisions lay out in numbered sections the specific authorities granted. For example, in 1987 the Federal Water Quality Act replaced the EPA Construction Grants Program with the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) programs. Under this program municipalities, based on a priority ranking system, could submit pollution abatement projects that would be eligible to receive below market rate financing.
The National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) is a permitting system dedicated to the reduction of pollution sources emanating from discrete sources such as from an industry or municipal wastewater treatment plant. Such sources are frequently referred to as “Point Source Discharges.” Under this jointly administered program, all facilities which discharge pollutants from any point source into waters of the Commonwealth are required to obtain a NPDES permit. More recently water quality regulators have placed additional focus on nonpoint pollution. Nonpoint pollution is broadly defined as the pollution caused by diffuse sources that are not presently regulated as point sources and are normally associated with precipitation and runoff from the land or percolation. Within the past year the EPA has begun the process of addressing the problem of stormwater contamination. Under the authority of Section 402(p) of the Clean Waters Act small cities and towns located in urbanized areas will be required receive a permit to discharge stormwater and to develop and implement a stormwater management program. The permits will by administered as Phase II Stormwater Compliance of the NPDES program. These drainage systems are referenced as “municipal separate storm sewer systems” or MS4’s. Communities are slated to submit their respective plans in March of 2003.
Section 305b of
the FCWA provides the legal authority by which each state must develop
information on the quality of its waters and report that information to the
Environmental Protection Agency and Congress. Section 303d addresses impaired
waterbodies. Impaired waterbodies such as lakes, rivers, ponds, estuaries
and harbors that do not meet water quality standards set for their desig
One such methodology is to develop a pollution budget called the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDLs) on the sources of pollution causing the degradation and a Remediation Plan for each pollutant of concern. Section 319 deals with implementation practices designed to reduce nonpoint pollution sources. Some sections of the Clean Water Act such as 604b, 319, 104b in addition provide funding mechanisms to address or remediate the various sources of pollution. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection currently administers a number of these grant and loan programs provided through the auspices of the EPA. Additional program funds are derived through other state or federal appropriations such as through an Environmental Bond Fund.
The National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 and Flood Disaster Program Act of 1973 provided the source of authority to conduct Flood Insurance Studies to investigate the existence and severity of flood hazards in communities across the nation.
The Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 and through subsequent amendments and reauthorizations established a program for the States and territories to develop comprehensive programs to protect and manage coastal resources. Resource management and protection is accomplished through State Laws regulations, permits, and local plans and zoning ordinances. In 1990 section 6217 of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments provided comprehensive guidance to the coastal States on the types of management measures needed to specifically address nonpoint pollution sources affecting coastal water quality and establishes the Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program. …”The purpose of the program “shall be to develop and implement management measures for nonpoint pollution to restore and protect coastal waters, working in close conjunction with other State, Federal and local authorities.” “ There is clear link between coastal water quality and land use activities along the shore.” (USEPA Proposed Guidance Specifying Management Measures for Sources of Nonpoint Pollution in Coastal Waters may 1991).
Massachusetts General Law Chapter 30 section 62 the current statute was enacted in 1977. The statute requires that all agencies of the Commonwealth determine the impact on the natural environment of all works, projects directly undertaken by state agencies and to private projects for which state permits are sought or in which state funding or land transfer is involved and use all practicable means and measures to avoid or minimize the environmental harm that has been identified. It also provides the procedure--the Environmental Impact Report--by which that obligation will be satisfied and authorizes the Secretary of Environmental Affairs to oversee the review process. MEPA does not apply to projects needing just local approvals.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 21G section 3 and General Law Chapter 30A sections 2 and 3. Regulation 310 CMR 36.00 is intended to establish a program whereby withdrawals of water in the Commonwealth above a threshold quantity are registered and regulated by the Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Drinking Water. These regulations are intended to enable the Department to document baseline water use in the Commonwealth and begin the process of comprehensive management of the surface and groundwater of the Commonwealth.
(105 CMR- 445.000) requires that the water at public bathing beaches be tested for bacteria to protect the public from contracting infectious diseases while swimming. Local health departments or local organizations collect the vast majority of beach water quality testing.
310 CMR 479 - 310 CMR 15.000: of the State Environmental Code, Title 5: are the standard requirements for the siting, construction, inspection, upgrade and expansion of on-site sewage treatment and disposal systems and for the transport and disposal of septage (DEP 2000b).
Pursuant to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP), a 21E site is “any building, structure, installation, equipment, pipe or pipeline, including any pipe discharging into a sewer or publicly-owned treatment works, well, pit, pond, lagoon, impoundment, ditch, landfill, storage container, motor vehicle, rolling stock, or aircraft, or any other place or area where oil or hazardous material has been deposited, stored, disposed of or placed, or otherwise come to be located. A complete listing of statewide 21E sites can be accessed through the DEP World Wide Web site (http://www.state.ma.us/dep/bwsc/sitelist.htm).
The environmental agencies in the
The Secretary oversees five major environmental agencies and six independent programs that have the responsibility for carrying out the state environmental programs and enforcing state environmental laws. For more detailed information regarding the environmental agencies and programs administered under EOEA please consult the web page http://www.mass.gov/portal/index.jsp and related linkages.
Descriptions of the five environmental agencies follow.
Bureau of Resource Protection (BRP) is responsible for
identifying critical inland and coastal water resources, devising strategies
for protecting and preserving them, safeguarding public drinking water supplies
and ensuring public access to the waterfront. BRP also administers grants and
revolving loan programs that help the Commonwealth’s cities, towns, municipal
water or sewer districts and other regional entities improve their
environmental infrastructure. BRP consists of the following divisions:
Watershed Management Division, Municipal Services Division, Planning and
Program Support. The Watershed Management Division, charged with monitoring and
regulatory activities that affect water quality and quantity within the state’s
major river basins, combines the four water resource programs within the
original BRP (Wetlands and Waterways, Water Pollution Control, Watershed
Management, and Drinking Water) and focuses on building local and regional
coalitions to bring about the next major increment of water quality
improvement. The Municipal Services Division, replaces the former Bureau of
Municipal Facilities, has responsibility for administering the wastewater and
drinking water State Revolving Funds and delivers training and technical
Bureau of Waste Prevention (BWP) is charged with preventing pollution before it happens and promoting maximum reuse and recycling of residential, institutional and industrial waste. BWP consists of the following divisions: Business Compliance Division
Consumer and Transportation Compliance Division, Evaluation
and Planning Division Program Support. Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup (BWSC) is
charged and ensuring immediate and effective response to environmental
emergencies, such as oil spills and chemical fires, as well as timely
assessment and cleanup of hazardous waste sites by private parties responsible
for them. BWSC consists of the following divisions: Policy and Program
Development Division, Response and Remediation Division Technical and Financial
Support Division. DEP has four Regional Offices that are the focal point for
most of DEP’s permitting, compliance, enforcement, emergency response and site
cleanup activity that protects citizens of
Owns and operates the state forest and parks system, which
is one the largest in the nation. In addition, the Department is responsible
for water resources planning, dam safety, lake and pond restoration, hazard
mitigation planning, areas of critical environmental concern planning, and
forestry management. Amongst the key DCR (DEM) programs is The Areas of
Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) Program established in 1975. It
authorizes the Secretary of Environmental Affairs to identify and desig
(Formerly known as the Department of Food and Agriculture, DFA)
Supports agriculture industry through market development and
regulates certain related activities, including pesticide use. The Department
also manages the state agriculture land preservation program and coordi
(Formerly known as the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Environmental Law Enforcement, DFWELE)
managing game and non-game wildlife and the regulation of hunting and fishing.
The Department manages the state’s rare and endangered species program and
administers the Riverways Program. The mission of the Riverways Program is to
promote the restoration and protection of the ecological integrity of the
Commonwealth’s watersheds: rivers, streams and adjacent lands. The Riverways
Program was established within DFWELE in 1987 in recognition that river and
stream corridors are a crucial component of the state’s ecological
infrastructure and that protection of these watershed resources could not be
accomplished through land acquisition alone. The Natural Heritage &
Endangered Species Program (NHESP), part of the Massachusetts Division of
Fisheries and Wildlife http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/
is one of the Programs forming the Natural Heritage Network. NHESP is
responsible for the conservation and protection of hundreds of species that are
not hunted, fished, trapped, or commercially harvested in the state. The
program’s highest priority is protecting the approximately 175 species of
vertebrate and invertebrate animals and 250 species of native plants that are
officially listed as endangered, threatened or of special concern in
Other agencies within DFWELE include the Division of Marine Fisheries who’s’ mission is to manage, develop, and protect the renewable living marine resources to provide the greatest public benefit. The Division fosters protection of the marine environment by cooperating with other state and federal agencies on pollution abatement, coastal wetlands protection and other programs concerning coastal waters and marine life. The Division monitors coastal contaminant levels in fish and shellfish, operates a shellfish purification facility, and evaluates the impacts of coastal development on marine fish and their habitats.
(Formerly known as the Metropolitan District Commission, MDC)
This system was the first regional organization of public
open space in the
- Begun in 1996 by the Executive Office of
Environmental Affairs. The Watershed Initiative was an innovative,
result-oriented program. The Massachusetts Watershed Initiative was a broad
partnership of state and federal agencies, conservation organizations,
businesses, municipal officials and individuals. The goal of the Massachusetts
Watershed Initiative was to integrate the activities of the state environmental
programs with each other and with the activities of federal and local
governments, non-governmental organizations, business and other watershed
partners along seven program elements Outreach and Education,
- Implements the
Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Regulations 301 CMR 11.00 Statute
M.G.L c30, ss 61-62H. The North Coastal Watersheds team has successfully
utilized this program to advocate for stronger environmental protection
measures consistent with the long-ter
– Implements state coastal protection policies and programs,
including providing consistency review of federal actions in the coastal zone
and implementation of related grant and regulatory programs. The mission of
Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (MCZM) is to balance the impact
of human activities with the protection of coastal and marine resources through
planning, public involvement, education, research, and sound resource
management. CZM helps communities with harbor planning, monitoring, some
wastewater issues, and stormwater as well as wetland and tideland issues. MCZM
also serves as a conduit for grants to communities and organizations to
remediate nonpoint pollution sources. MCZM’s programs rely on existing
- Since 1964, the Division of Conservation Services has been providing technical and financial assistance to farmers as well as public and private landowners in matters dealing with farm plans or sediment and erosion control. DCS awards grants to municipalities for conservation and parkland acquisition and construction. DCS also provides assistance with the development of open space and recreation plans, and to municipalities, land trusts, and private landowners regarding approval of conservation restrictions. The Self-Help program was established in 1961 to assist municipal conservation commissions acquiring land for natural resource and passive outdoor recreation purposes. Lands acquired may include wildlife, habitat, trails, unique natural, historic or cultural resources, water resources, forest, and farmland. Compatible passive outdoor recreational uses such as hiking, fishing, hunting, cross-country skiing, bird observation and the like are encouraged. Access by the general public is required. This state program pays for the acquisition of land, or a partial interest (such as a conservation restriction), and associated acquisition costs such as appraisal reports and closing costs.
The Urban Self-Help Program was established in 1977 to assist cities and towns in acquiring and developing land for park and outdoor recreation purposes. Any town with a population of 35,000 or more year-round residents, or any city regardless of size, that has an authorized park /recreation commission and conservation commission, is eligible to participate in the program. Communities that do not meet the population criteria listed above may still qualify under the “small town,” “regional,” or “statewide” project provisions of the program.
- Provides assistance to public and private entities on the pollution prevention and toxic use reduction.
– The Water Resources Commission (WRC) is a 13 member Commission within EOEA responsible for developing the water resources management framework under which the environmental agencies operate. The Commission is also responsible for implementing the Interbasin Transfer Act, which regulates the transfer of all surface and groundwater, including wastewater, between the 27 major watersheds in the Commonwealth. For more information about the WRC, state water policies and the Interbasin Transfer Act please visit the Department of Environmental Management’s Website http://www.state.ma.us/dem .
The Massachusetts Wetlands Restoration Program (MWRP) was established in 1994 within the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs(EOEA, website at http://www.state.ma.us/envir/ ) to implement a voluntary (non-regulatory) program for restoring the Commonwealth’s wetlands. MWRP inventories wetlands restoration sites within watersheds and coastal regions, and facilitates the implementation of priority restoration projects through its GROWetlands (Groups Restoring Our Wetlands) Initiative. Once a restoration project is accepted into the program, MWRP, in collaboration with its many federal, corporate, and non-profit partners, works with the project sponsor to provide or obtain whatever assistance – financial, technical, monitoring or other support - is required to complete the project.
The Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (CWRP) was launched in May of 1999 by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA), The Gillette Company, and the federal EPA, and is managed by EOEA’s Wetlands Restoration Program. This partnership was the first of its kind in the nation to encourage voluntary corporate participation in proactive wetlands restoration. CWRP attracts funding and assistance from the private sector to help complete MWRP’s Wetlands restoration efforts