Despite our ample rainfall, Massachusetts faces some very serious water resource challenges. We are dewatering our watersheds, draining our rivers, treating large volumes of clean rainwater at our sewage treatment plants, wasting millions of gallons of water, and threatening the health of aquatic ecosystems and species.
A step forward:
The Sustainable Water Management Initiative
The initiative is aimed at providing both ample drinking water supply and healthy aquatic habitat. ELM participated in a state-appointed Sustainable Water Management Advisory Committee to address the health of our rivers and streams. The final framework can be found here along with other information about the initiative and the scientific studies that were used.
Current Legislative Priorities:
The very serious drought we have been experiencing has illustrated some weaknesses in the state’s Drought Management Plan. These issues need to be addressed so we can better respond to future droughts. This legislation would give additional authority to the state regarding when to declare droughts/what would trigger drought warnings, authorize more consistent responses within drought regions, particularly concerning non-essential water uses, and ensure that in addition to protecting drinking water supply, streamflow and aquatic life should be protected and included in drought management planning and actions.
We oppose proposals for the Commonwealth to take over Clean Water Act responsibilities from the federal government. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for issuing permits under the Act and does so at no cost to the Commonwealth. At a time when MassDEP is already under-resourced, short-staffed, and unable to carry out many of its existing responsibilities, taking on this complex and costly program does not make sense.