SWMI Pilots Underway

June 13th, 2012
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The Sustainable Water Management Initiative continues to move (slowly) forward…  The Mass Rivers Alliance’s Julia Blatt, along with Ian Cooke of the Neponset River Watershed Association, are participating on the Pilot Oversight Committee (which also includes two water supplier representatives and staff from EOEEA, DEP, DCR, and DFG). The state’s consultants are currently scrambling to collect information on the water supply systems and hydrologic conditions of the four pilot areas, and have set up meetings with the municipalities and watershed groups in these areas.  They have been asked to submit draft reports by the end of FY12 (yes, that’s June 30).

Here is a May update from Kathy Baskin, EOEEA’s Director of Water Policy:

EEA and its agencies are grateful for the comments received from many of our stakeholders on the MA Sustainable Water Management Initiative.  We are reviewing those comments now and expect that they will inform the development of the final SWMI Framework and the accompanying Water Management Act regulations.

In the meantime, the Pilot Project is underway.  Four water suppliers have been selected as pilots:  Amherst, Danvers-Middleton, Dedham-Westwood, and Shrewsbury.  These systems represent a range of conditions, including:  varying impacts to flow levels/biological categories, both groundwater and surface water supplies, single and multi-basin systems, a system augmented with water from the MWRA, and municipal versus district systems.  The team of Comprehensive Environmental, Inc. and Tighe & Bond was selected to be the project’s contractor.  DFG’s Division of Ecological Restoration, with DEP funding assistance, is supporting river restoration and monitoring in Pilot Communities.  Projects include the removal of the Curtis Pond Dam in the Ipswich River Basin, monitoring to support restoration actions in Pelham and Amherst, and the development of feasibility studies for multiple dam and culvert removals in the Pilot Communities and their watersheds.

DEP and DCR have also been working with a contractor to improve data management abilities to better assist with the permitting process.  The Access databases that DEP uses during the regulatory process are being improved.  DEP is also streamlining its ability to provide information from annual statistical reports to DCR for use in developing water need forecasts.

We expect to prepare and disseminate a final framework this summer.  The final framework will guide us as we prepare draft regulations, which we hope to do by the end of the year.  These regulations will take into account information derived from the Pilot Projects, and will be subject to full public review and comment.

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