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The Water Management Act (M.G.L. c. 21G) became effective in March 1986. The Act authorizes the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to regulate the quantity of water withdrawn from both surface and groundwater supplies. The purpose of these regulations (310 CMR 36.00) is to ensure adequate water supplies for current and future water needs. The Water Management Act (WMA) consists of a few key components, including a registration program and a permit program.
Large water users had the ability to register their existing water withdrawals based on their water use between 1981-1985. The registration program established the renewable right of previously existing water withdrawals over 100,000 gallons per day (gpd) on average, per river basin, between the years of 1981-1985. MassDEP issued registration statements to document these registrations. The last day to register was January 4, 1988. Either registrations or permits may be transferred. Registration transfers for cranberry cultivation can only be for this continued use.
Since 1988, persons planning to withdraw water from ground or surface sources for purposes in excess of an annual average of 100,000 gallons per day or 9 million gallons in any three month period must apply for a Water Management Act Permit. Withdrawers typically requiring a permit include public water suppliers, 18 hole golf courses, cranberry growers, ski areas, sand and gravel facilities, fish hatcheries, agricultural and industrial users. Withdrawers with a Water Management Registration do not need a permit if they do not increase withdrawals over their registered volumes or add any new withdrawal points to their system.
The following requirements should be considered when applying for a Water Management Act Permit:
For detailed information on the permitting process see Water Management Act Permitting.
Within 72 days of the filing date, MassDEP will complete a review of the application, during which time the applicant and MassDEP will each conduct their required public notice. The applicant then will have 90 days to remedy any deficiencies and complete the public notice responsibilities. MassDEP typically has 72 days from the completion date to rule on an application but may take up to an additional 9 months in certain circumstances.