- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards $100,000 in Grants to Help Local Watershed Groups Monitor Water Quality
Edmund Coletta, MassDEP – Director of Public Affairs
BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that $100,000 in funding from the Water Quality Monitoring Grant Program has been awarded to two coalitions of watershed monitoring groups to help them test water quality in rivers, lakes and ponds, and coastal resources across the Commonwealth. The announcement was made as part of the Commonwealth’s celebration of Earth Week.
“Improving the quality of our rivers, streams, lakes and ponds will help ensure our waters are safe for the public to enjoy,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “By providing funding for water quality monitoring across the Commonwealth, our Administration is supporting local environmental organizations as they collect the critical data needed to better protect our natural resources from pollutants.”
“This is the third year that our Administration has awarded Water Quality Monitoring grants, designed to support watershed groups and non-profit organizations and their vital water testing activities,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These funds will help us assess the health and safety of Massachusetts’ surface waters and foster a partnership between us to protect and restore our valuable water resources.”
The grants, offered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), have been awarded to the Charles River Watershed Association and the Buzzards Bay Coalition, and will result in enhanced water quality data in both the Greater Boston area and the SouthCoast area that will help MassDEP implement program requirements for the federal Clean Water Act. This funding will help eligible non-profits organizations, including watershed groups, academic regional planning agencies, and others with surface water quality monitoring capacity.
“We are grateful to the Charles River Watershed Association, the Buzzards Bay Coalition and their coalition partners, as well as the other regional stakeholder groups that regularly monitor for contaminants in our waterbodies,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Investments like this help us better assess the health of our watersheds and are critical to our future planning and protection efforts.”
“The goal of these grants is to increase and supplement the amount of high-quality data available to MassDEP as we regularly assess the quality of our surface waters across the Commonwealth,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “Regional watershed groups have been doing great work out in the field over the years, and these grants will continue to support and enhance their monitoring efforts through the purchase of critical sampling equipment and supplies.”
The grant recipients and awards are:
- The Charles River Watershed Association – $54,526
This grant will be used to develop a collaborative approach to monitoring water quality in watersheds throughout the Greater Boston area, through the purchase of key equipment and supplies among seven partner organizations.
- The Buzzards Bay Coalition – $45,474
This grant will be used to purchase equipment and supplies to support long-term monitoring at more than 400 sites in the Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod and Islands watersheds conducted by seven partner organizations.
“I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration and MassDEP for their continued investment in our water quality assessment infrastructure,” said State Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton). “This investment is crucial for the well-being of our communities, and it will ensure that the data is as accurate as possible. I will continue to support programs like this that benefit our communities and the Commonwealth.”
“Managing water quality on a watershed basis is extremely important to all the residents within its boundaries,” said State Representative Norman Orrall (R-Lakeville). “I am very pleased that the Baker-Polito Administration has provided funding for our corner of the Commonwealth to help protect one of our most precious resources.”
Watersheds across the Commonwealth must be assessed every two years. However, many water bodies are not assessed for one or more uses – such as primary or secondary recreation or aquatic life – in any given assessment cycle, and many small or unnamed streams and ponds have never been monitored or assessed. Also, many water bodies that have been assessed in the past need updated information to determine their current condition. It is anticipated that this grant program will increase the availability of surface water quality data that is used to determine the condition of surface waters within the state.
To recognize the value of state partnerships with watershed groups and other external data collectors, the funding balance of $100,000 will be used to fund the purchase of equipment and supplies by coalitions of eligible organizations. This will promote collaboration among eligible entities, and foster inclusion of Environmental Justice Communities in identifying and addressing surface water quality protection and restoration, including water quality monitoring, education, and outreach.
The Charles River Watershed Association partners in this effort are: the Cohasset Center for Student Coastal Research; Merrimack River Watershed Council; Mystic River Watershed Association; Neponset River Watershed Association; North and South Rivers Watershed Association/MassBays South Shore; and OARS, the watershed organization for the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord rivers.
The Buzzards Bay Coalition partners in this effort are: the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition; Center for Coastal Studies; Friends of Bass River; Orleans Pond Coalition; Popponesset Water Stewardship; and the Westport River Watershed Alliance.
Over three years, the Water Quality Monitoring program has provided more than $500,000 in grants to organizations across the Commonwealth. For more information on MassDEP’s watershed monitoring and assessment programs, turn here.
During this year’s Earth Week in Massachusetts, the Baker-Polito Administration is highlighting its commitment to supporting the Commonwealth’s Environmental Justice communities and ensuring that all residents are protected from environmental pollution can enjoy a clean and healthy environment. During Earth Week, the Administration is holding events throughout the Commonwealth spotlighting important initiatives, including the expansion of tree planting through the Greening the Gateway Cities Program, increasing access to healthy, nutritious food by supporting urban farms, and ensuring clean water by providing grant funding to local municipalities.
On March 26, 2021, Governor Baker signed comprehensive climate change legislation that includes nation-leading provisions related to Environmental Justice. Recognizing the significant impact of climate change on Environmental Justice communities overburdened by poor air quality and disproportionately high levels of pollution, the legislation statutorily defines Environmental Justice and environmental burdens, including climate change as an environmental burden. The legislation also expands Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) review to require an Environmental Impact Report for all projects that impact air quality within one mile of an Environmental Justice Neighborhood, and requires the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a stakeholder process to develop a cumulative impact analysis as a condition of permitting certain projects. This change would, for the first time, require the agency to evaluate not just individual project impacts but also historic environmental pollution throughout the community through the permit process.
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.