The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) was created in July 2003 when the legislature merged the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). Chapter 26 of the Acts of 2003, s. 290 transferred the responsibilities of the former MDC Division of Watershed Management entirely to the Office of Watershed Management within the Division of Water Supply Protection. The names have changed, but the mission of the Office of Watershed Management remains constant: to provide pure water through responsible management of over 100,000 acres of land and the water within the Quabbin Reservoir, Ware River, Wachusett Reservoir, and Sudbury Reservoir watersheds. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) distributes this source water to over 2 million customers.
DCR - MWRA Memorandum of Understanding
There is well established working relationship between DCR and MWRA. MWRA’s ratepayers entirely fund the Office of Watershed Management’s annual $30 million budget, including costs associated with land acquisition and payments in lieu of taxes . The terms of this relationship are defined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two agencies. The latest version of this MOU , developed soon after the creation of DCR, was signed into effect in April, 2004. A key provision of the updated MOU is the requirement for an annual work plan and budget to detail all of the Office of Watershed Management’s functions.
The Water Supply Protection Trust
The legislature further enhanced the ability of the Office of Watershed Management to maintain this drinking water supply by establishing a Water Supply Protection Trust, created by Chapter 149 of the Acts of 2004, s. 27, and written into the general laws at MGL c. 10, § 75. The trust provides a more efficient mechanism for MWRA’s funding of the Office of Watershed Management. The Trust has also allowed the Office of Watershed Management to fill a wide range of critical positions that were previously frozen due to state budget constraints.
The Water Supply Protection Trust has a five person board of trustees responsible for approving the Office of Watershed Management Annual Work Plan and Budget each spring for the following fiscal year beginning in July. The members of the board of trustees are:
1. Matthew A. Beaton, Secretary of the Energy and Environmental Affairs represented by Water Policy & Planning Director Kathleen Baskin
2. Fred Laskey, Executive Director of the MWRA.
3. William Meehan, representative jointly selected by the North Worcester County Quabbin Anglers Association, Inc. and the Quabbin Fishermen's Association, Inc.
4. Fred Heyes, representative from the Swift River Valley Historical Society.
5. Louis M. Taverna, P.E., Chairman of the MWRA Advisory Board.