Application for Municipality Opt-Out of SRMCB Spraying

Overview of process by which municipalities can apply to opt out of mosquito control spraying conducted by the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board.

Table of Contents

Overview of Opt-Out Process for 2022

M.G.L. Chapter 252, Section 2A(b)(2) allows a municipality to opt out of spraying, either aerial or other mosquito control spraying, conducted by the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board (“SRMCB”) conducted under M.G.L. c. 252, Section 2A(a). For the SRMCB to recognize a municipal opt-out, the municipality must first have an alternative mosquito management plan (“Plan”) approved by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (“EEA”).

In accordance with the M.G.L. c. 252, Section 2A(b)(2), EEA has developed the following guidance on the development and approval of a Plan. Please note that the 2022 opt-out process reflects several updates in response to outcomes from the 2021 opt-out process.

Please review the following details in advance of preparing a municipal application for EEA’s review.

  1. Review regional historical Eastern Equine Encephalitis ("EEE") risk levels, which serve as EEA’s evaluation criteria for the 2022 municipal opt-out application process. Given understanding of EEA’s evaluation criteria for 2022, detailed below, the municipality shall determine interest in proceeding with an opt-out application for 2022.
  2. Prepare an alternative mosquito management plan, which includes only submission of at least three education and outreach activities.
  3. Host a meeting of the City Council or Select Board, at which a vote must be taken indicating the municipality’s intention to opt out of spraying conducted by the SRMCB.
  4. Submit checklist, alternative mosquito management plan and copy of certified vote to EEA by May 27, 2022.

Application Details

1. The municipality shall review the regional historical EEE risk levels. These regional risk level determinations serve as EEA's evaluation criteria for the 2022 municipal opt-out applications. Regional historical EEE risk levels were determined using historical risk level indicators, including the presence of local and regional suitable mosquito habitat and local and regional incidences of positive EEE test results of mosquito samples, animals, and humans. A table with town level detail can be found below the map.

Regional Historical EEE Risk Level Map

2022 Historical Regional EEE Risk Level Table

More Information on Evaluation Criteria

In 2021, applications were all evaluated for historical EEE risk levels upon application submission to EEA. During application evaluation, municipalities were individually reviewed, but EEA was able to consider regional impacts of municipal applicants in order to determine regional risk levels.

However, in effort to establish upfront expectations about application evaluations in the 2022 season, evaluation criteria have been updated to create standardization across all municipalities, to ensure that all towns may be evaluated on the same basis. As a result, historical regional EEE risk level classifications may have changed for the 2022 program.

Low Regional Risk: Municipalities are at low regional risk if they are without local (within municipal boundary or within an adjacent municipality) evidence of a mosquito sample testing positive for EEE, and without strong evidence of a locally infected human or animal case of EEE, regardless of suitable mosquito habitat.

In order to be considered for opt-out approval by EEA, municipalities located in areas of the Commonwealth that are at low regional risk will be required to prepare an alternative mosquito management plan with specified mosquito control education and outreach activities for residents, and to submit a certified vote.

Moderate Regional Risk: Municipalities are at moderate regional risk if they are without strong local evidence of a human or animal case of EEE but are with local evidence of a mosquito sample testing positive for EEE and also have regional suitable mosquito habitat. This category also includes any municipalities that are surrounded by high risk municipalities.

In order to be considered for opt-out approval by EEA, municipalities that are classified as moderate regional risk will be required to prepare an alternative mosquito management plan with specified mosquito control education and outreach activities for residents, and to submit a certified vote. However, Chapter 120 of the Acts of 2020 allows EEA to consider a plan’s impact on regional mosquito control. Municipalities classified as moderate regional risk for arbovirus will also be subject to further review for the extent of habitat that may increase the likelihood of arbovirus concerns in that region, both within the municipality that submitted a plan for review and those in the surrounding area that may be impacted by any approval granted by EEA.

High Regional Risk: Municipalities are at high regional risk if there is either evidence of a mosquito sample testing positive for EEE in the region in multiple years or if there is strong evidence of a locally infected human or animal case of EEE in the region. These municipalities must also have local suitable mosquito habitat.

Chapter 120 of the Acts of 2020 allows EEA to consider a plan’s impact on regional mosquito control. This means that EEA must consider how the approval will impact not only the municipality that has applied to opt out, but also those located in that region. As a result, any municipality that is classified as high regional risk must demonstrate it can perform significant mosquito management and control measures that will address risk levels otherwise requiring state action, including the ability to perform work equivalent to that undertaken by the SRMCB in the event of a public health hazard related to arbovirus. This includes proof of ability to perform comprehensive active interventions, such as adulticide applications (both aerial and ground) and include detailed information on how such activity will be conducted in compliance with applicable state and federal law.

2. The municipality must prepare and submit an alternative mosquito management plan, which includes submission of at least three education and outreach activities, per the template below.

Alternative Mosquito Management Plan Template

3. The municipality must hold a meeting of the City Council or Select Board, at which a vote must be taken indicating the municipality’s intention to opt out of spraying conducted by the SRMCB.

  • This meeting should include presentation of the alternative mosquito management plan that includes at least three education and outreach activities, should include feedback from the local board of health, and must allow for public comment.
  • The vote should include the following:
    • The date and time of the public meeting
    • That the board of health was consulted;
    • That public comment was allowed;
    • Whether the municipality is opting out of all spraying or only certain spray activities, such as aerial spraying. If a vote does not include that it is for a specific type of spraying, the vote will cover all spray activities conducted by the SRMCB under M.G.L. c. 252, Section 2A; and
    • Acknowledgement that the vote to opt out will only be honored if all application components are submitted to EEA and if the application is approved by EEA

4. The municipality must fill out the following checklist and sign the document.

Checklist Template

5. The municipality must provide a copy of the certified vote and the alternative mosquito management plan as part of the application for approval. The municipality must submit the application to EEA at the following address: EEAopt-out@mass.gov

All applications must be received by May 27, 2022

 

Important notes:

  • This process applies only to municipalities. Any other requests to opt out of spraying or exclude private property must be made in accordance with M.G.L. c. 252 or 333 CMR 13.00. More information on these options is available on the SRMCB web page: How to Request an Exclusion or Opt-out from Wide Area Pesticide Applications
  • Approval of a Plan does not extend to any spraying conducting by a mosquito control project or district (“MCD”) of which a municipality may be a member. Any questions related to services provided by an MCD should be directed to its attention.
  • A Plan shall be effective from the date of approval through December 31st of the year in which it was approved.

Application Summary

By May 27, 2022, municipalities must send the following items as an email attachment to EEAopt-out@mass.gov

  1. Checklist of required components: Checklist Template
  2. Submission of the alternative mosquito management plan that includes at least three education and outreach activities: Alternative Mosquito Management Plan Template
  3. Confirmation of certified vote, including:
    1. The date and time of the public meeting;
    2. That the board of health was consulted;
    3. That public comment was allowed;
    4. Whether the municipality is opting out of all spraying or only certain spray activities, such as aerial spraying. If a vote does not include that it is for a specific type of spraying, the vote will cover all spray activities conducted by the SRMCB under M.G.L. c. 252, Section 2A; and
    5. Acknowledgement that the vote to opt out will only be honored if all application components are submitted to EEA and if the application is approved by EEA

Municipal Opt-Out Frequently Asked Questions

Below are frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the application process for producing an alternative mosquito management plan as part of the requirement for a municipality to opt out of spraying conducted by the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board (SRMCB). 

Who approves the application for an alternative mosquito management plan when a municipality requests to opt out of mosquito spraying?
An alternative mosquito management plan (“Plan”), required by M.G.L. c. 252, Section 2A(b)(2), must be approved by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (“EEA”). 

What does having an approved Plan do, and what spraying activities can a municipality apply to opt out of?
A municipality may only opt out of spraying activities conducted by the SRMCB, whether done aerially or by other means, provided it has a Plan approved by EEA. The approval of a Plan means that the SRMCB will not perform any spray activities in that municipality. It does not extend to activities conducted by Mosquito Control Districts (“MCD”) or any spray activities the MCD may perform within a municipality that is a member.

What if the municipality that wishes to opt out is currently a member of an MCD?
Municipalities that are part of an MCD that wish to opt out of spraying conducted by the SRMCB would apply by submitting a Plan for approval as well - there is no separate process. Note that the opt-out request relates to SRMCB activities only, and does not extend to activities conducted by MCDs including any spray activities an MCD may perform within a municipality that is a member.

What is the difference between mosquito control activities conducted by the SRMCB and MCDs?
While MCDs operate under the oversight of the SRMCB, M.G.L. c. 252, and enabling legislation, MCDs conduct year-round arbovirus control operations for their member municipalities. These services include but are not limited to: larvicide treatments (including ground or aerial spraying), adulticide treatments (including ground spraying), public education and outreach, and water and wetland management. Under M.G.L. c. 252, Section 2A, the SRMCB may conduct mosquito control operations under its own authority anywhere in the Commonwealth when DPH has determined there is an elevated risk of arbovirus such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) for that year. In the event that DPH issues a Certificate of Public Health Hazard, the SRMCB has historically responded by conducting aerial spraying of adulticide in limited areas in order to address the arbovirus risk.

If the municipality has an approved Plan, will the municipality be sprayed in the event there is a public health hazard?
No. If EEA has approved a Plan then the municipality will not be sprayed in the event the SRMCB conducts spraying, whether aerial or ground. 

Will exclusion requests submitted by private property owners seeking to be excluded from spraying be honored if the SRMCB decides to spray in response to a public health hazard?
While private property owners may opt out of spraying activities conducted by the SRMCB, or can request to exclude their property from wide-area applications of pesticides, including those performed by MCDs, such requests are not honored by the SRMCB during a certification of a public health hazard. 

What will EEA consider when reviewing a municipality’s application for an alternative mosquito management plan? 
Each municipality’s application will be individually reviewed, with consideration of historical arborvirus risk, the regional impact of excluding the municipality from spraying, and the ability of the municipality to successfully implement an alternative mosquito management plan. 

What are the minimum requirements for an alternative mosquito management plan?
In order for the Plan to be considered, it must contain at a minimum a detailed public outreach and education component. Municipalities should also make sure to provide an appropriate level of detail for any other components of the Plan they intend to provide.

What is the deadline for submission of an alternative mosquito management plan?
The deadline to submit a request is May 27, 2022.

Contacts

If you have any questions, please email EEAopt-out@mass.gov

Additional Resources

Date published: April 8, 2022
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