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25. Water Management Act
Authorities: M.G.L. c. 21G: Water Management Act; 310 CMR 36.00: Massachusetts Water Resources Management Program.
Jurisdiction: Ground and surface waters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Applicability: Water withdrawals of over 100,000 gallons per day or 9,000,000 gallons over a three-month period.
Regulatory Summary: The intent of the Water Management Act (WMA) is to protect water resources by limiting withdrawals to a “safe yield.” The unit of management is the basin and sub-basins of rivers. Safe yield is defined by environmental quantity and quality impacts on water resources near a proposed new withdrawal, as determined by the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the Massachusetts Water Resources Commission. Within this context, water withdrawals that will not unduly stress the host river basin are permitted for five years, renewable to 20 years. Large water users had the ability to register their existing water use during the years 1981-1985, establishing a renewable right to that baseline withdrawal. Since the initial registration period, large withdrawers or registered withdrawers seeking to increase their water consumption have been required to obtain a Water Management Act Permit from DEP.
Review Process: A water withdrawal application, including all withdrawal points and total volume from all withdrawal points, is filed with the MassDEP Water Management Program and with the local water resources management official. Within 10 days of filing, an Environmental Notification Form (ENF) must be filed with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Unit. A public notice and comment period is required. A key component of the application process is the water conservation plan prepared by the applicant for approval by DEP. MassDEP considers matters such as safe yield, impacts on other withdrawals, the proposed use of the water, and existing approved water resources management plans.
Fees: Application fee is $3,340. Annual compliance fee is $175.
Contact: MassDEP Water Management Program (617) 292-5706.
Publication Date: Fall, 2003
A publication of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) pursuant to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Award No. NA170Z2338. This publication is funded (in part) by a grant/cooperative agreement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA or any of its sub-agencies.