- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Announces Funding to Assist Local Water Quality Management Efforts
Edmund Coletta, MassDEP – Director of Public Affairs
Boston — To address water quality impairments in local water bodies, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced the award of $216,078 in grants to five projects across the Commonwealth to conduct nonpoint source assessment and water quality management planning work. The projects, selected this year by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), are based in the cities of Amesbury, Lawrence, and Methuen, and in the towns of Ashfield, Buckland, Hanover, Hawley, and Medway.
“Environmental protection and preservation of our Commonwealth’s natural resources continues to be a priority for our Administration,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This funding will be instrumental in understanding how local communities can develop an effective plan to address this type of pollution today and well into the future.”
“These grants help the Commonwealth not only build strong partnerships with local communities, but they also directly invest in real solutions that address nonpoint source pollution problems,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.“Local officials are undertaking many worthy projects to develop a comprehensive approach to restoring water resources, and we will continue to support them in their efforts.”
The term “nonpoint source pollution” refers to contaminants that are carried to a waterway due to precipitation and stormwater runoff from the land or infiltration into the soil. Common types of nonpoint source pollution include phosphorus and nitrogen from lawn and garden fertilizers, bacteria from pet waste and waterfowl, oil and grease from parking lots and roadways and sediment from construction activities and soil erosion.
“This opportunity to improve aquatic habitat and water quality over the long term will translate into everyday benefits for years to come,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Grants such as these are a great testament to the work that the Baker-Polito Administration and local communities are committed to in order to preserve the precious resources that we have.”
“Stormwater runoff pollutes our sensitive water resources, so it’s important to find the source of contamination and eliminate it,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “This year’s investment will help communities partner with environmental organizations, collect watershed data, develop green infrastructure plans and, ultimately, fund local efforts to improve water quality.”
The grants are funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through Section 604(b) of the federal Clean Water Act. Since 1998, MassDEP has funded 116 projects under the 604(b) Water Quality Management Planning program, totaling more than $5 million to address nonpoint source pollution problems.
Projects receiving funding are:
Spicket River Nutrient and Pathogen Reduction – $50,000
City of Methuen
The city will partner with the City of Lawrence, the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, the Merrimack River Watershed Council and GroundWork Lawrence to investigate and develop solutions for pathogen and nutrient impairments in the Spicket River. The project will conduct a land use assessment, collect water quality data, develop a watershed-based plan, prepare preliminary designs for five-to-eight best management practices (BMPs) and implement a multi-lingual water quality outreach campaign.
Green Stormwater Infrastructure at Medway Middle and High Schools – $35,769
Town of Medway
The town will partner with the Charles River Watershed Association to develop seven conceptual BMP design plans for future implementation at the Middle and High Schools to reduce phosphorus pollution to Chicken Brook and provide groundwater recharge. A previously complied list of 92 potential BMP installation sites within the town will also be further prioritized and 10 conceptual BMP design plans will be developed.
Comprehensive Watershed Based Planning for a Sustainable Future – $70,540
City of Amesbury
The city will develop a community-wide comprehensive plan of prioritized water quality restoration recommendations that can be used as a road map over the next 10 years, with a focus on climate change impacts, sustainability and long-term resiliency and agricultural/backyard farming pollution abatement. Watershed-based plans will be developed or updated for the Powwow River and Lake Gardner, Back River and Lake Attitash watersheds. Five conceptual BMP design plans will also be developed and a preliminary Green Streets survey will be conducted for the downtown.
North River Headwaters Bacterial Source Tracking – $21,269
Town of Hanover
The town will partner with the North and South Rivers Watershed Association and the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program to conduct an iterative bacteria sampling program to determine sources of high bacteria counts identified during a previous sampling program in 2019, conduct outreach to the community and determine solutions to restore water quality.
A Healthy Watershed-Based Plan for Clesson Brook Watershed – $38,500
Franklin Regional Council of Governments
The regional council – involving the communities of Buckland, Ashfield and Hawley – will develop this watershed-based plan for Clesson Brook, which is in the Deerfield River Watershed, to identify projects to protect the watershed and address current nonpoint source threats. A robust community outreach campaign will also be executed.
“Safe drinking water is a public good of fundamental importance,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Massachusetts is proud to have some of the strongest water safety protections in the nation, and we look forward to maintaining our clean water supply. With these grants, funded by the legislature and awarded by the Department of Environmental Protection, the Town of Medway, which I have the honor of representing, will be able to proactively ensure the continued availability of this basic necessity.”
“Protecting our local water quality is paramount to maintaining public health and our robust ecosystems,” said State Senator Michael Brady (D-Brockton). “Thank you to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA for contributing to this project to improve our water quality in Hanover.”
For more information about the grants and financial assistance related to water quality and watersheds, click here.
Additionally, MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.
In June 2021, the Baker-Polito Administration re-filed its plan to immediately put to use part of Commonwealth’s direct federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support key priorities including housing and homeownership, economic development and local downtowns, job training and workforce development, health care, and infrastructure. As part of the Administration’s proposal to jump-start the Commonwealth’s economic recovery and support residents hardest-hit by COVID-19, such as lower-wage workers and communities of color, Governor Baker would direct $900 million to key energy and environmental initiatives, including $400 million to modernize water and sewer infrastructure across the Commonwealth. The funding would be used to support water and wastewater infrastructure projects that are shovel ready and on the Clean Water Trust’s list of intended projects, including sewer separation projects to address Combined Sewer Overflows, addressing PFAS contamination in their water supplies, and for infrastructure upgrades in communities to improve water quality overall.