Reminder, February 13 Tracker event
10am Alewife Reservation
Call: 617 415-1884 for information
Impaired Storm Water: Lessons and Standards for Alewife
Attention: Mystic River watershed in West Cambridge
Noting that “55% of our waterways in Massachusetts are impaired by stormwater,” New England’s EPA Regional Administrator Curt Spaulding briefed a group of state legislators yesterday on the pending storm water permit. The seminar, hosted by Representative Carolyn Dykema and Senator Jamie Eldridge, took place at the State House and also included brief talks by MassDEP Commissioner Marty Suuberg and EPA Stormwater Coordinator Thelma Murphy.
Curt Spaulding and Thelma Murphy of EPA Region 1
Spaulding said that the new permit, which was issued in draft form in September (and replaced an earlier draft that was never finalized), will be issued in final form in “six to eight weeks,” or by mid-January. The permit will cover about 263 communities in the state (Boston and Worcester have separate permits, and very small towns are not subject to the permit).
According to Spaulding, the EPA received 160 comment letters on the draft permit during the public comment period. The letter comprised 1,700 pages, and the agency is still working on its response to the 1,400 separate comments.
Murphy gave a broad overview of the permit, which has six main kinds of requirements:
- Public education and outreach.
- Public participation.
- Illicit discharge detection and elimination (gettting sewage out of storm water)
- Construction management.
- Management of new and redevelopment post-construction.
- Good housekeeping (street sweeping, catch-basin cleaning, etc.)
Spaulding, Murphy, and EPA’s Ecosystem Planning Director, Ken Moraff, all noted that the agency carefully considered the comment letters and changed some aspects of the final permit in response to municipal concerns. Legislators’ echoed their constituent’s concerns, with questions about the cost to municipalities. Moraff said the agency has estimated the additional cost for most towns to comply with the new permit will be between $15,000 and $180,000/year. Legislators in attendance said their towns’ consultants had come up with much higher numbers – over $1M, in at least one case. Moraff reminded the group that the final version of the permit will be different from the draft, and Spaulding also noted that costs during the five-year term of this permit will be relatively low, as many of the requirements will be for planning.
Cambridge plans on long term variances, thus delaying compliance.
The premise is simple: the healthier you are, the quicker you can recover from illness. The same applies in the natural world. Higher-functioning ecosystems can better deal with, and recover from, stress. For example, wetlands, and specifically salt marshes, are a large-scale landscape in Massachusetts where the impacts of climate change are being seen. Unhealthy marshes are less able to keep up with sea level rise; if marshes remain unhealthy, they are more prone to permanent inundation and the lands, cities, roads and homes that they buffer and protect are more exposed to extreme weather. The Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) and partners are working hard to restore vitality to salt marshes and other aquatic ecosystems that protect our communities and economies. As the threats of climate change become more pronounced, resiliency is essential to the functioning of our natural communities. The more resilient nature is, the more resilient our cities and towns will be given a future where change will be the constant.
Letter from Staff at DER of Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Little River Remains in Despair
Ellen Mass 1/29 To FAR followers
A clean bill of health cannot yet be given to the city, state and Montgomery and Watson engineers as yet, says Friends of Alewife Reservation to Belmont Citizen Forum's January/Febriary 2016 http://www.belmontcitizensforum.org/ of two Combined sewer overflow (CSO) cut offs in Cambridge. Officially, the close date was December 23 at a cost of over 23 million. This condition remained for 15 years of polluting Little River and Alewife Brook of the Mystic River watershed while the Lower Mystic and Mystic River itself with much greater industrial history was improving, with presently, a grand increase in herring spawning, thanks to the Mystic River Watershed Association. Belmont’s upstream sanitary sewer system, however, continues to greatly pollute Cambridge and its downstream communities. Although city congratulations are in order, results by all municipalities including Belmont must be proven. Few lived in the old CSO Reservation vicinity with little residential advocacy, allowing sewage to flow until recent cut offs. Today, we see the western part of the city, and bordering Alewife floodplain area of 2 towns and Somerville (5 feet above sea level) grow rapidly, seemingly over night, with thousands of new units already up and more coming under highly questionable river attenuation and state storm water standard enforcement which protects Little River, Alewife Brook, Wellington Brook, Perch and Blair Ponds, not to mention the unrecognized streams. The federal court order for 35 municipalities was in effect since 80s, and are still retained in Cambridge until proper testing assessments of the CSO clean ups are fulfilled.
This article will be expanded in the local media.
Wildlife Walk by Jake Stout- Tracking
Every Second Saturday series
When Sat, February 13, 10am – 12pm
Where Alewife Reservation Entry Bridge Across from Alewife T stop Passenger Pickup ()
Jake Stout will lead and teach group to see tracking signs. Wear warm clothes, hat, heavy boots, guide book, water bottle and binoculars. Call 617 415 1884, Friends of Alewife Reservation for more info on walks, events, or changes due to weather.