Know condition of surface waters

What we planned:

  • Develop Strategic Statewide Monitoring Plan.
  • Develop and implement a pilot bacteria source tracking program for beaches.
  • Continue statewide efforts on the nutrient criteria development (including sampling and laboratory analyses by USGS under the direction and oversight of DWM staff).
  • Conduct monitoring in lakes for both nutrient criteria development and TMDLs.
  • Conduct assessment monitoring in the Deerfield, Millers, Shawsheen, Ipswich, Buzzards Bay, and Islands watersheds with emphasis on 2nd and 3rd order streams
  • Develop watershed assessment reports for the Farmington, Westfield, Concord, South Coastal, and Taunton Watersheds. Evaluate existing process to make it more efficient and streamlined where possible.
  • Implement the Assessment Database (ADB); Revise and publicly notice for comment proposed changes to the list to address waterbodies affected by atmospheric mercury; Provide electronic update of integrated list to EPA. 

What we did

Monitoring Plan Development: During FY05 the Watershed Planning Program developed a statewide Monitoring Strategy and submitted it to EPA for comment. Major goals of the Monitoring Strategy and the corresponding monitoring program elements designed to meet those goals are presented in the table below:

Monitoring GoalsMonitoring Design Elements
1) Determine whether waters are meeting Water Quality Standards
  • Five-year Rotating Watershed Monitoring for Use Assessments (existing)
  • Targeted monitoring to assess bioaccumulation (existing)
  • Targeted monitoring of lakes (proposed)
  • Probabilistic Sampling Network (proposed)
2) Determine water quality trends and contaminant loadings
  • Continuous fixed-site monitoring network (proposed)
3) Implement pollution control strategies (TMDLs and Clean-up Plans)
  • Targeted monitoring to support TMDL Program (existing and proposed)
  • Targeted monitoring of lakes (existing)
  • Targeted monitoring to locate sources of bacterial contamination (pilot)
4) Identify emerging issues and develop policies and standards
  • Targeted monitoring for criteria development (existing)
5) Measure program or project effectiveness
  • Project-specific, targeted monitoring
6) Improve the protection of public health and the environment by reducing the risk of drinking contaminated water
  • Surface Water Assessment Program
  • Probabilistic monitoring of groundwater

The highest priority monitoring elements are aimed at knowing the condition of Massachusetts' waters, finding pollution sources (as related to TMDLs), and developing strategies for restoring impaired waters. "Knowing the waters" is the fundamental element that triggers other monitoring programs aimed at water quality management and provides the information needed to develop the Integrated List of Waters. Therefore, the rotating watershed monitoring plan and targeted monitoring to identify pollution sources and support TMDLs and other clean-up activities received the highest priority and are already being carried out to the extent that existing resources allow.  The most immediate needs, in order to more fully meet the highest priority objectives, include two additional benthic biologists, one additional microbiologist, two data management specialists, and six TMDL monitoring personnel.

Monitoring to detect trends and loadings was assigned the next highest priority, and implementation is proposed within two years of the Monitoring Strategy pdf format of Mass. Water Quality Monitoring Strategy
approval.  Finally, while probabilistic monitoring designs are useful for drawing inferences on the status of waters state-wide, they are not as helpful for identifying site-specific problem areas and focusing remedial actions, and consequently are given the lowest priority.  For that reason the Monitoring Strategy specifies a five-year implementation schedule for lakes and ponds and ten years for rivers and coastal waters. Additional details are found in the strategy.

Bacteria Source Tracking: Bacteria Source Tracking Projects were performed at selected bathing beaches collaboratively with MassDEP's Central and Western regional offices using protocols developed in 2004 by the Watershed Planning Program that provide site-specific data for the identification and abatement of specific bacterial pollution sources.  The DWM reviewed existing bacteria data and information from the Department of Public Health and developed a list of beach sites for potential study in the Central and Western Regions of MassDEP.  DWM and the Regional office personnel reviewed these data and other pertinent information such as GIS land use and/or infrastructure maps and selected up to two beaches per region for field reconnaissance.  Beaches selected for bacteria source tracking in the Central Region were at Coes Reservoir (Worcester) and West Hill Dam (Uxbridge). The Westfield River at Gardner State Park, Huntington was the site chosen in the Western Region. 

Screening level bacteria sampling for E. coli was conducted on several occasions (during dry weather only) in each beach subwatershed. WPP personnel using an in-house commercially available enzyme substrate testing system conducted bacteria sample analysis. A source tracking advisory team (STAT), made up of representatives from MassDEP/WPP, MassDEP/Central Regional Office and MassDEP/Western Regional office reviewed the data and refined sampling locations based on bacteria "signals" and field observations.  WPP and the Regional offices conducted iterative bacteria sampling for E. coli in each beach subwatershed during dry weather to isolate sources of dry weather flows of bacteria.  In some cases follow-up analyses (e.g., optical brighteners, fluorescent whitening agents, etc.) were performed in an attempt to determine if the bacteria were from human or animal sources.

Monitoring: The Watershed Planning Program carried out monitoring activities in 2005 primarily within the Deerfield, Millers, Ipswich and Shawsheen watersheds and Buzzards Bay drainage area. The Islands watershed was not sampled due to insufficient funds to support sampling crews during the summer however monitoring was conducted on the Islands through the Massachusetts Estuaries Project. The WPP conducted intensive physical, chemical, and biological monitoring for 6 weeks in each watershed. Monitoring included, but was not limited to, water quality parameters (such as dissolved oxygen, temperature, bacteria, etc.) at over 100 locations, biological sampling at over 50 locations, and sampling at 36 lakes mostly to collect data to support nutrient criteria development. Additional samples were also collected for periphyton at 26 locations and for fish toxics and fish populations 9 locations. In addition, EPA assisted the WPP with ambient toxicity testing at an additional 10 locations. A brief summary of the monitoring activities for the summer of 2005 is provided in the following table. A more detailed summary titled "2005 DWM ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING OVERVIEW" is available from the WPP and will soon be posted on MassDEP's web site.

ActivityDeerfieldIpswichMillersShawsheenBuzzards BayOther
Duration6 weeks6 weeks6 weeks6 weeks6 weeks 
Water Quality Stations3015211625 
Biological Stations15159109 
Fish Population & Toxics212122

The WPP also made also substantial progress in 2005 with ongoing efforts to automate selected routine data collection activities. In the past, the WPP collected theoretically "worst-case" dissolved oxygen data from rivers and streams by performing pre-dawn (typically 12-6 am) surveys using portable multiprobes. However, several problems were encountered with this approach. To alleviate these problems, and to expand the quantity and quality of dissolved oxygen and temperature data obtained from "Year 2" watersheds, the WPP deployed unattended, continuously-monitoring multiprobe data loggers at selected locations for approximately 48 hours on multiple occasions throughout the assessment monitoring period. This program yielded DO and temperature data that were more representative of typical conditions in a manner that posed less risk to monitoring personnel.In addition to the monitoring described above the WPP participated in several special studies not previously planned. A brief summary of each follows:

Perchlorate Sampling: Water samples for perchlorate analysis were collected once in June and once in September from ten locations in the Concord and Merrimack watersheds. This collaborative effort with NERO was a follow-up to extensive sampling and analysis performed in 2004 in response to the discovery of perchlorate in the Town of Tewksbury's municipal water supply. The 2005 sampling provided confirmation that the source of perchlorate had been eliminated.

Quabbin Reservoir Survey: WPP staff worked with personnel from the Division of Fish and Game (DFG) and Department of Conservation and Recreation to collect water and fish samples from Quabbin Reservoir in support of ongoing research by MassDEP's Office of Research and Standards (ORS) on toxic contaminants in fish. A one-day water-monitoring event included in situ measurements of pH, temperature, and dissolved oxygen as well as sampling for dissolved organic carbon (DOC) analysis at the Environmental Institute's Environmental Analysis Lab at Umass-Amherst. Fish samples were collected over two days and delivered to MassDEP's Wall Experiment Station (WES) for mercury analysis.

Blue-green Algae Bloom Investigations: Throughout the summer of 2005 MassDEP and/or Department of Public Health staff members collected algae samples from five waterbodies in response to known or suspected blue-green algal blooms that had the potential of being toxic. These were Quaboag Pond (Brookfield/East Brookfield), Quacumquasitt Pond (Brookfield/East Brookfield/Sturbridge), Long Pond (Dracut), Dunham Pond (Carver) and Wedge Pond (Winchester).  In the case of Quaboag Pond samples were obtained on several occasions to monitor the algal population following treatment with copper sulfate. Phytoplankton identifications and counts were completed for each of the samples to determine whether the World Health Organization (WHO) criterion for blue-green algae blooms was exceeded.   

Nutrient Criteria Development:  As previously noted the WPP continued data collection efforts to support nutrient criteria development. In 2005 the WPP collected additional periphyton and water quality samples from 26 sites and collected lakes data from 30 additional sites. This data will be combined and analyzed with data collected over the last two years in an effort to establish nutrient criteria or a translator for nutrient criteria for rivers and lakes statewide.

Watershed Assessment Reports: During FFY05 the Watershed Planning Program developed and received comment on several water quality assessment reports. The following reports were developed.

  • Draft Reports: Westfield WQAR, Taunton WQAR, SuAsCo WQAR
  • Final Reports: Deerfield WQAR, SuAsCo WQAR, Farmington WQAR  
  • Development of the South Coastal WQAR was under way.         

In addition, the WPP conducted a detailed evaluation of the way we currently develop our water quality assessment reports and will be instituting upgrades in new reports to be developed in 2006.

Integrated List & Assessment Database (ADB)

In 2004 MassDEP/WPP developed and submitted a 2004 Integrated List of Waters to EPA for approval. While EPA's approval was pending MassDEP decided to revise its previous submittal to address lakes solely impacted by atmospheric mercury. After public comment and during FFY05, MassDEP submitted a revised proposal to move lakes impaired due to atmospheric mercury to category 4b of the Integrated list. MassDEP's 2004 revised list and supporting documentation to support a mercury 4b proposal can be found here. It should be noted that MassDEP provides electronic updates of our Integrated Lists once the list is approved by EPA. Since our 2004 submittal has not yet been approved we has not yet provided EPA with the electronic submittal at this time.  

Full implementation of the ADB was envisioned during 2005 however was temporarily put on hold for two reasons. First, EPA's contractor Resource Triangle Institute (RTI), was given a grant by EPA to upgrade the ADB to address important state needs including those in Massachusetts. It is anticipated that the upgrade will be complete in January 2006. Second, the WPP undertook an aggressive evaluation of our existing data base programs with the goal to upgrade all of them to be more compatible with the Department's database standards and network applications, to create user friendly input screens, and to allow the WPP to upload our data into EPA's STORET data system. The Department completed the program evaluation component during 2005 and will be implementing RTI's recommendation including uploading existing databases into the new data management system during 2006.

Watershed Planning Program Accomplishments

  • Developed Statewide Monitoring Strategy.
  • Conducted intensive monitoring to assess water quality conditions in 5 watersheds.
  • Conducted additional monitoring to develop statewide nutrient criteria and to address critical needs of the Department.
  • Developed 5 detailed assessment reports documenting water quality conditions;
  • Developed and piloted bacteria source tracking protocols to identify and eliminate bacteria sources to public beaches.
  • Developed and submitted for EPA approval a revised Integrated List of Waters to address atmospheric mercury emissions.

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Set Water Quality Standards ; Prevent water quality degradation; Control pollution from nonpoint sources

What we planned

  • Draft revised water quality standards; go out for public comment; hold public hearing(s);  promulgate regulations.
  • Continue to develop freshwater nutrient criteria and coastal embayment site-specific nitrogen "threshold" concentrations to be used in the development of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) and to prevent future water quality degradation.
  • WPP Basin Planners will participate in the 319 Nonpoint Source Grant program and targeting the funds to important projects within each watershed.
  • WPP Basin Planners assure that our work is directed to the most important environmental issues in each watershed. Using Basin Planners, develop two (2) prototype Surface Water Quality Action Plans (SWQAP), which will include specific action recommendations from TMDL analysis, Watershed Nonpoint Source Action Strategies, grant projects and consultant reports etc.
  • WPP staff will work with the NPDES permitting program by reviewing permits, and when necessary, recommending changes in limits (based on watershed information such as assessment reports and monitoring program results).
  • Work in tandem with CERO's GIS coordinator to create a new data layer that would apply MassDEP's NPS phosphorus loading model to impervious land use changes by watershed in order to estimate and analyze nutrient loading changes over time.
  • Begin updating  the Watershed Nonpoint Source Action Strategies.  Assess their use as an on-going tool to control and reduce nonpoint source pollution.  Develop a plan for distribution to key internal and external stakeholder groups.
  • Coordinate with Boston Municipal Services program managers to better integrate Section 319 and SRF programs. Investigate possible funding alternatives for the FY 2006 Intended Use Plan (IUP). Develop an internal and external communication plan to facilitate project development in Fiscal Year 2005.
  • Input Section 319 Fiscal Year 2004 project load reduction information into the EPA GRTS database.

What we did

Revise Water Quality Standards: During FFY05, the Division of Watershed Management (DWM) worked closely internal programs, EPA, and numerous other environmental agencies to revise the Massachusetts Water Quality Standards and prepare to make them available for public comment. Since negotiations with these groups took longer than anticipated the Standards were not made available for public comment in FFY05 however it is anticipated that they will be available in December 2005 and hearings will be held in early 2006 with final promulgation likely at the end of FFY06.

Nutrient Criteria: As previously noted in the "Know Conditions of Surface Waters" the WPP continued data collection efforts to support nutrient criteria development. In 2005 the WPP collected additional periphyton and water quality samples from 26 sites and collected lakes data from 30 additional sites. This data will be combined and analyzed with data collected over the last two years in an effort to establish nutrient criteria or a translator for nutrient criteria for rivers and lakes statewide.

Basin Planner Activities: In 2005, the WPP Basin Planners assisted in the developing, prioritizing, and reviewing projects under the 319 Nonpoint Source Grant program and assisted in targeting the funds to important projects within each watershed. The Basin Planners also worked to assure that our work is directed to the most important environmental issues in each watershed by developing pilot work plans for two watersheds. They were also heavily involved in the development of statewide bacterial TMDLs for 16 out of 27 watersheds in the Commonwealth and participated in the development of nutrient and bacteria TMDLs developed through the Massachusetts Estuaries Project.

Review of NPDES Permits: WPP staff worked directly with NPDES staff during FFY05 to set priorities for NPDES permits and to review and recommending changes in limits (based on watershed information such as assessment reports and monitoring program results). Two examples include the detailed development of phosphorus limits for all the treatment facilities on the Assabet River and the scientific evaluations of the potential impacts of the Mirant Kendall Power plant permit on fish populations in the Charles River Watershed.

Impervious Land Use Data Layer: During FFY05 the WPP worked with CERO's GIS coordinator to create a new data layer that could be used to estimate stormwater loadings from impervious surfaces and estimate nutrient loads to local water bodies. Although the model has not yet been used to evaluate nutrient loadings over time, it was used directly to estimate nitrogen loadings from impervious surfaces adjacent to several embayments on Cape Cod. That information was then used to develop point and non-point source loads to each embayment. This tool will have many TMDL related applications in the coming years.

Watershed Nonpoint Source Action Strategies: The initial nonpoint source action strategies were developed in 2000. Those strategies were then updated in 2004. The strategies are being used extensively by the WPP basin planners and monitoring coordinators to help prioritize year-to-year monitoring and implementation activities such as implementation grants. The action strategies were also being incorporated directly into the nonpoint source watershed-based plans being developed for all 27 watersheds in Massachusetts (more on these plans is provided below). Once finalized the plans will be posted and available to both internal planners as well as external agencies and watershed groups to assist in efforts to decrease nonpoint source pollution.

Integration of Section 319 and SRF Programs: Progress has been made in an effort to better integrate Section 319 funds and CWSRF.  During FY 06, two current Section 319 projects are being coordinated with Clean Water State Revolving Fund projects.  The Richmond Pond project in Richmond, MA, Project 02-04/319, will implement stormwater BMPs to complement CWSRF-funded sewer upgrade work around the Pond.  Lily Pond in Cohasset, Project 03-12/319, is a drinking water source that is similarly being protected through a combination of CWSRF and 319-funded work.

Nonpoint Source Watershed Model (AVGWLF): The New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) is calibrating and validating a Northeast ArcView Generalized Watershed Loading Function (AVGWLF) Model in response to the New England states' need for regionally-consistent tools for estimating nutrient and sediment pollutant load reductions. Twenty-seven watersheds, located in the seven participating states, will be utilized for calibrating and verifying the model output. MassDEP is participating in the Technical Advisory Committee for the project. The model is expected to be completed in the summer of 2006.

Input Section 319 project load reduction information into the EPA GRTS database: The GRTS system currently contains a full set of records for 319 projects and expenditures from years 2002 - 2004.  Last year, DWM entered the 2004 projects (15) and updated records for projects where BMPs had been implemented or load reduction amounts changed (another 15). DWM also updated all 3 years to reflect total expenditures of 319 funds, not just project expenditures. By April 1, 2006, DWM will enter the 2005 projects and again update all 2002-2004 projects appropriately. 

Section 319 Nonpoint Source Competitive Grants: As in previous years, the bulk of the incremental funds for FFY 2005 was directed into "pass through" grants to municipalities, watershed associations, regional planning agencies, and other interested organizations in the Commonwealth.  The April 2004 Request for Proposals for FFY05 Section 319 competitive sub-awards encouraged projects that would demonstrate the best opportunities to implement Massachusetts' Total Maximum Daily Loading (TMDL) analyses or that will implement recommendations made in Diagnostic/Feasibility studies, EOEA 5-Year Action Plans, or other studies for waters that do not meet Water Quality Standards.  The solicitation emphasized the importance of source reduction by encouraging the implementation of Low Impact Development (LID) Best Management Practices.  The Department also sought to improve the effectiveness of outreach and education as a non-structural BMP through the use of a community-based social marketing approach. 

In FFY 2005, the Department selected twelve projects that, for the most part, will implement structural best management practices to improve water quality. Eleven of the twelve projects are "shovel-in-the-ground" projects.  The remaining project provides partial funding for the Massachusetts Septic System Test Center, an ongoing demonstration/outreach and education project which provides data and technical information that significantly advances MassDEP's knowledge about effective on-site wastewater disposal techniques.  Grantees for the twelve sub-awards include municipalities, a regional planning agency, a county health department, UMass/Amherst, a watershed association, a fire district, and a private marina.

Additional Non-point Source Projects Undertaken in FFY05: There were two additional and very important nonpoint source projects that were undertaken in FFY05 which were not envisioned during original program planning. Those two projects included the development of a new Non-point source Users Guide and the development of watershed based nonpoint source plans for the entire Commonwealth.

  • Nonpoint Source Manual: The purpose of this project is to develop and republish a nonpoint source pollution (NPS) management guide for municipal officials. The Massachusetts Nonpoint Source Management Manual (Manual) was originally published in 1993.  The Manual described nonpoint source pollution problems that cause degradation of water quality.  The Manual also identified and explained the human activities and multiple land uses associated with NPS pollution problems.  Management alternatives for NPS problems were covered in terms of applicable federal, state, and local regulatory programs and appropriate Best Management Practices (BMPs).  The Manual was written and designed to be user friendly to local officials who have little or no background knowledge or training in NPS pollution control. Although the original Manual is still useful to local officials, the information is dated and incomplete.  The scope of the literature and research on NPS issues has broadened considerably since publication of the Manual, and a great deal of new material is available on the topic.  In addition, new regulatory and funding programs such as the Stormwater Management Policy, the Rivers Protection Act, the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Program, National Pollution Discharge Elimination Program (NPDES), Phase II, the Source Water Protection Program, the 319 and 604b competitive grant programs, and the State Revolving Funds have been established to address NPS problems.  Consequently, revisions to the Massachusetts NPS Manual must reflect current knowledge of the subject and new or revised regulatory programs.  The revised Manual will be restructured to maximize accessibility of information in electronic format as well as in print.  The new Draft Nonpoint Source Management Manual can be viewed here.
  • Watershed-based Plans: The purpose of this project was to develop a Watershed-Based Plan for each of the 27 major Massachusetts basins.  As outlined in the EPA's Nonpoint Source Program and Grants Guidelines for States and Territories (Oct. 23, 2003), EPA is requiring that a WBP be developed as a prerequisite for funding future 319 projects.  Watershed-Based Plans developed under this project must contain the following elements: 

    • Estimate of load reductions expected for the management measures described
    • Description of management measures that will need to be implemented to achieve the load reductions and identification of critical areas in which those measures will be needed.
    • Estimate of the amounts of technical and financial assistance needed, associated costs, and/or the sources and authorities that will be relied upon, to implement the plan.
    • Education/outreach used to enhance public understanding of the project and encourage their early and continued participation in selecting, designing, and implementing the NPS management measures that will be implemented.
    • Schedule for implementing the NPS management measures ID in the plan that is reasonably expeditious.
    • Description of interim, measurable milestones for determining whether NPS management measures or other control actions are being implemented.
    • Criteria that can be used to determine whether loading reductions are being achieved over time and substantial progress is being made towards attaining WQ standards.  And, if not, criteria for determining whether the plan or TMDL needs to be revised.
    • Monitoring component to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation efforts over time, measured against the criteria in item 8. above.

To date a contract has been awarded and an initial pilot watershed plan is under development. The current schedule calls for the development of all 27 watersheds by April 2006.

Watershed Planning Program Accomplishments!

  • Revised the Massachusetts surface water quality standards for public review and comment.
  • Continued the development of statewide nutrient criteria to address nonpoint source pollution.
  • Developed tools such as the nonpoint source action strategies, AVGWLF watershed model, and impervious cover model to better assess pollutant loadings and potential sources.
  • Established and updated non-point source data in EPA's GRTS database.
  • Began development of important tools and public guidance documents such as the Nonpoint Source Manual and Nonpoint Source Watershed Plans to not only establish potential sources and loadings for various pollutants but to also provide guidance on best management practices (BMPs) needed for implementation.

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Restore degraded water quality

What we planned

TMDL Activities: During  2005 DWM planned to conduct the following TMDL related work. All work is targeted at nutrients and bacteria that are the primary causes of impairments in MA (see Know the Condition of Surface and Groundwaters).

  • Final nutrient TMDLs for 5 Chatham embayments
  • Bacteria TMDL - Frost Fish Creek, Chatham
  • Bacteria TMDL - Muddy Creek, Chatham
  • Bacteria TMDL - Oyster Pond, Falmouth
  • Bacteria TMDL - Three Bays/Princes Cove 
  • Bacteria TMDL - Nantucket Harbor
  • Bacteria TMDL - Sesachacha Pond, Nantucket
  • Nutrient TMDL - Popponesett Bay
  • Nutrient TMDL - Great Pond
  • Nutrient TMDL - Green Pond
  • Nutrient TMDL - Bournes Pond 
  • Nutrient TMDL - Quashnet Bay
  • Stormwater TMDL - Peters River (not yet scheduled. ENSR lead through EPA grant)
  • Quaboag Pond/South Pond Nutrient TMDL
  • Shawsheen Headwaters TMDL
  • Kickemuit Bacterial TMDL
  • Nutrient TMDL - Nashua River
  • Statewide Bacteria TMDL

In addition DWM will maintain involvement in the following projects:

  • Upper Charles River nutrient TMDL - CRWA Lead
  • Lower Charles River Nutrient TMDL - EPA lead
  • Charles River Bacteria - EPA Lead
  • Concord River Nutrients - data collection through ENSR
  • Connecticut River Nitrogen- NEIWPCC & EPA lead
  • Assabet River - Development of long-term monitoring plan to follow-up on TMDL activities and working with stakeholders to evaluate dam & sediment remediation options.

What we did

The following table summarizes the WPP TMDL accomplishments for FFY05

TMDLs PlannedCompleted/# of TMDLsDate Completed
1. Popponessett Embayments

Final Tech Report

Draft Nitrogen TMDLs

Final Nitrogen TMDL/5




2. Chatham EmbaymentsFinal Nitrogen  TMDLs/1312/15/04
3. Frost Fish Creek, ChathamFinal Bacteria TMDL/ 13/10/05
4. Muddy Creek, ChathamFinal Bacteria TMDL/13/10/05
5. Oyster Pond, FalmouthFinal Bacteria Tech Report1/13/21/05
6. Three Bays/Princes CoveFinal Bacteria Tech Report1/1


sent to EPA 11/21/05

7. Great Pond, Falmouth

Final Tech Report

Draft Nutrient TMDL/2



8. Green Pond, Falmouth

Final Tech Report

Draft Nutrient TMDL/1



9. Bournes Pond, Falmouth

Final Tech Report

Draft Nutrient TMDL/1



10. Quashnet River, Mashpee

Final Tech Report

Draft Nutrient TMDL

Final Nutrient TMDL/5




11. Little Pond, FalmouthDraft Nitrogen Tech Report/18/29/05
12. Oyster Pond, FalmouthDraft Nitrogen Tech Report/17/29/05
13. Blackstone Watershed2Final Draft Bacteria TMDLs/119/30/05
14. Concord Watershed2Final Draft Bacteria TMDLs/129/30/05
15. Buzzards Bay Watershed2Final Draft Bacteria TMDLs/309/30/05
16. Cape Cod Watershed2Final Draft Bacteria TMDLs/669/30/05
17. Islands Watershed2Final Draft Bacteria TMDLs/149/30/05
18. South Coastal Watershed2Final Draft Bacteria TMDLs/129/30/05
19. Taunton Watershed2Final Draft Bacteria TMDLs/159/30/05
20. Nashua Watershed2Final Draft Bacteria TMDLs/129/30/05
21. Quaboag Pond/South, Pond, BrookfieldDraft Phosphorus TMDL/26/2/05
22. Peters River,  BellinghamStormwater TMDLCompleted draft 10/25/04. Method did not work well for this watershed and was discontinued.
23. Shawsheen River HeadwatersStormwater TMDL/1Under negotiation
24. Kickemuit RiverBacteria and Phosphorus TMDL/2Being completed by R.I. DEM. Public meeting scheduled for 1/06
25. Nashua River Phosphorus TMDLModeling being completed/4Draft TMDL scheduled for Spring 06

1 Draft and Final TMDLs not required because they were covered by the Cape Cod Watershed Bacteria TMDL.

2 8 of 27 watersheds completed during FFY05. Remaining underway.

In addition to the TMDLs developed above the WPP has maintained involvement in the following projects:

  • Upper Charles River nutrient TMDL - CRWA Lead - Model calibration underway.
  • Lower Charles River Nutrient TMDL - EPA lead - model calibration almost complete. TMDL possible in 2006.
  • Charles River Bacteria - EPA Lead - roles into watershed TMDL listed above.
  • Concord River Nutrients - data collection through ENSR - data collection complete but model and TMDL not yet scheduled.
  •  Connecticut River Nitrogen- on-going- NEIWPCC & EPA lead
  • Assabet River - Draft long-term monitoring plan developed in June 05 and meeting held with stakeholders. Also contract awarded to Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate dam & sediment remediation options.

Draft and final TMDLs can be found here.

Watershed Planning Program Accomplishments

  • 197  TMDLs developed and submitted to EPA for approval during FFY 2005 to address the Commonwealths two top impairments, bacteria and nutrients.
  • 13 draft TMDLs developed.

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NPDES Surface Water Discharge Permit Program

What we planned

  • Determine the nutrient loading to impaired waters from point sources for phosphorus and nitrogen to aid in developing NPDES permits for those facilities
  • Determine actual permit "universe" with particular emphasis on minor permits which have been traditionally a low program priority; determine which minor permits discharge nutrients to impaired [303d] waters
  • Evaluate nutrient loadings from all POTWs in the state; prioritize those discharging to impaired [303d] waters
  • Re-issue NPDES permits in the following priority watersheds: Assabet, Charles, and Nashua; base limits on approved TMDLs developed by MassDEP and approved by USEPA
  • Continue involvement in the NPDES Storm Water Phase 2 Program
  • Review, comment and issue 401 water quality certifications for all NPDES permits developed by USEPA
  • Inspect NPDES permitted facilities

What we did

  • Nutrient [nitrogen] loadings from POTWs with NPDES permits were calculated for the priority watersheds in the Narragansett Bay watershed [Blackstone, Taunton, Ten Mile]; nutrient loads were also developed for the Housatonic and Charles watershed; the other watersheds will be done in 2006
  • The permit "universe" has been evaluated in concert with USEPA by: file review, conversations with permittees on current discharge and permit status, electronic updating of files, and closing out non-dischargers; the "universe" is now felt to be about 100% correct
  • Permit development has taken phosphorus as the primary pollutant of concern; many permits have been issued with more restrictive phosphorus limits based either on a "highest/best" treatment technology standard or based upon a completed and approved TMDLs.; permits were developed for 2 facilities [Wareham and Scituate] with total nitrogen limits; Wareham was issued while Scituate is still under negotiation with the permittee; other permits may have nitrogen limits in the future; however, there are some policy and water quality response items in need of review and decision making.
  • Permits were issued to the 4 major WWTP facilities [Westborough, Hudson, Marlborough West, and Maynard] on the Assabet River and the 2 minor facilities [Middlesex School and MCI-Concord] in the watershed. Two of the permits [Westborough and Marlborough West] are currently under appeal. Permits in the Charles River watershed were divided between MassDEP and USEPA. MCI-Norfolk and Charles River Pollution Control District [CRPCD] were assigned to MassDEP. A draft permit was prepared for MCI-Norfolk and sent to USEPA. It has not yet been public noticed. The CRPCD permit was developed in 2006 and sent to USEPA. The Nashua watershed permits will be done in FY 2006. MassDEP has responsibility for Fitchburg East and MWRA-Clinton. Fitchburg West may also be part of the MassDEP permit list.
  • The program involvement in Storm Water Phase 2 continued in 2005. However, in FY 2006 the program responsibilities were transferred to BRP-Boston, thus, the NPDES permit program is no longer involved in the Storm Water Phase 2 Program.
  • The program reviewed all NPDES permits prepared by USEP and issued Section 401 water quality certifications for all permits. Approximately 40 permits were issued in FY 2005.
  • EPA and DEP coordinate the inspection of NPDES permitted facilities each year to meet EPA target goals.  DEP prioritizes its inspections in any given year according to the 5-year basin schedule and HLE.  In the 2004-2005 Performance Partnership Agreement (PPA) between EPA/Region I and DEP< BRP committed to perform 53 surface water discharge permit compliance inspections (32 major facilities and 21 minor facilities) and others as time and resources allowed.  BRP wastewater staff not only met this commitment but also performed inspections at an additional 38 facilities. 

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 Groundwater Permitting Program

What we planned

  • Control pollution from point sources
  • Initiate electronic data reporting through eDEP
  • Transfer certain enforcement responsibilities from Boston office to the regional offices
  • Streamline permit review and approval process
  • Revision of existing regulations and development of new regulations

What we did

The Groundwater Discharge Permit Program has continued to review applications for new discharges and permit renewals for consistency with water quality standards.  The number of permitted discharges that do not have water quality based limits, such as those utilizing the nutrient loading approach and those that report nitrogen but have no limits, has dropped from a total of 40 to 29.  Of course, there are instances where limits previously thought to be protective must be revised due to impacts on surface water quality.  Examples include the nutrient loading of our coastal embayments and inland waterways.  The problem for coastal embayments is an overabundance of nitrogen from both point and non-point discharges and that is being addressed in the southeastern part of the state by the Massachusetts Estuaries Project.  A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) will be developed for each of the 89 embayments highlighting their allowable nitrogen loading and strategies to achieve that goal. For inland waters, the nutrient of concern tends to be phosphorus, and the permit program will now require, at a minimum, that phosphorus be monitored in new and renewed permits and that strict effluent standards be required on a case-by-case basis.  There are now 8 permits with phosphorus discharge effluent limits, and 28 that require monitoring.

Beginning in July 2004, the Groundwater Discharge Permit Program initiated eDEP. This is an electronic reporting program that will greatly expand the amount of data collected for permitted discharges and will eliminate the need to send in a hard copy of the monthly Daily Monitoring Reports (DMRs).  In addition to all influent and effluent data during any given month, monitoring well results will also be reported.  This will allow for a more thorough analysis of the data for each facility.    In January 2005, the review of groundwater data for enforcement purposes was transferred from the Boston office to the regional offices.

However, as the accompanying graphs show, while there was a significant decrease both in the number of violations and overall non-compliance through FY03, there has been an increase in the non-compliance rate for both FY04 and FY05.   This is attributable to several factors.  The first is due to the initiation of eDEP where the submission of monitoring well results and the overall increase of data collected led to additional violations.  There were also an increase in the number of missing DMR reports as permittees were first learning the nuances of the eDEP system and electronic format.  Finally, the transfer of certain enforcement activities to the regional staff created some problems with understanding the new database.  As regional staff become more familiar with the database, we anticipate that the reviews will be completed promptly and the number of violations will decrease.

The program has looked at ways to streamline the permit review and approval process.  As part of disinvestment, new procedures has led to a reduction in the number of plan and specification reviews of wastewater treatment plants. The update in 2004 of our small wastewater treatment plant guidelines has given the regulated community a set of design standards and criteria that can be applied to their specific project, which in turn will reduce the need for Department design oversight.  In FY06, we will look at other ways to make the process more user-friendly, including the use of general permits for entire classes of discharges, and a modification to our fee structure to reduce the burden on some of the smaller permittees.

Regulatory development is another key component of our overall plan. We have been and will continue to work towards a major modification to the regulations governing groundwater discharge permits. Proposed changes include: combination of 314CMR5.00 and 314CMR6.00 into a single document; elimination of individual effluent standards in the regulations with a section stating that the standards to be met are those contained in the Drinking Water Regulations,310CMR22.00; establishment of general permits for certain classes of discharges; and incorporation of several policies directly into the regulations such as the nutrient loading approach and private sewage treatment facilities.  The program also began the development of new regulations governing the use of reclaimed water, replacing the guidelines established in 2000.  New standards and uses will be proposed.  This will assist the Department in achieving the goal of "keeping water local" by reducing the stress on existing water supplies and by providing a safe, affordable source of water for uses that are not directly potable. 

On September 27, 2005 a public notice process commenced on proposed changes to Title 5, 310 CMR 15.000.  The public hearing process closed on October 31, 2005.  In general the changes will clarify many design aspects of Title 5, strengthen the enforcement abilities of both the Department and the local Approving Authority, provides for the renewal of soil evaluators and system inspector approvals, allow the use of shared systems for cluster development in order to create open space and help develop smart growth projects and provides a section in the regulations dealing in the design and use of greywater systems. These proposed changes will be promulgated in April 2006. 

The Department has been developing changes to the Sewer Extension/Connection Regulations (314 CMR 7.00) that are intended to streamline the permitting process and eliminate duplicative permitting where and applicant currently receives a permit from the local municipality and the Department for a project.  Sanitary Sewer Connections and Extensions would be subject to the following:  any new sewer connection or increase in flow to an existing sewer connection greater than15,000 gallons per day or proposed sewer extensions less than 1000 feet in length would be subject to a one time certification statement;  any proposed sewer extension that has been issued a project approval certificate pursuant to Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program would be exempt from the permitting;  sewer extensions of 1000 feet or more would be deemed approved within thirty (30) days of receipt of a completed application if the Department failed to acted within that timeframe.   BRP will continue to work with BWP to streamline the permitting process for the discharge of industrial waste to the sewer. It is the Department's intent to promulgate these regulations in FY06.