Category Archives: Environmental

EPA Agrees to Our Request to Postpone MA MS4 General Permit

The application of the Federal M4S stormwater regulations to Medfield are being postponed a year, per the email below that Mike sent along today.  Medfield joined with Franklin and other towns to seek this redress.

 

Great News! EPA agrees to our request to postpone the
MA MS4 General Permit.
View this email in your browser
About the Coalition

The Massachusetts Coalition for Water Resources Stewardship (MCWRS) is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting watershed-based policies and regulations that effectively manage and conserve water resources.

MCWRS is unique in its focus on protecting municipalities’ interests in an ever changing regulatory environment. We promote using scientifically based and fiscally responsible approaches to realize environmental and community goals.

Members include municipalities; public agencies that transport and treat drinking water, wastewater and stormwater; quasi-government agencies; and private organizations whose members are committed to the principles of stewardship and sustainability in protecting the environment and public health. Invite your colleagues to visit the Coalition website for membership information.

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MCWRS Blog
Dear Michael,
We have exciting news to share. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed to our request to postpone the implementation of the Massachusetts Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) General Permit. The request, jointly filed with the Town of Franklin and City of Lowell, delays the permit implementation that was scheduled for July 1, 2017, by one year to July 1, 2018. It also postpones the September 28, 2017 due date for communities’ Notices of Intent. Feel free to download and share our press release on this important announcement. You may also review EPA’s announcement of the postponement.

When EPA issued the final MS4 General Permit in April 2016, MCWRS and Franklin jointly filed an appeal of the permit in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The City of Lowell, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and the Conservation Law Foundation also filed appeals in Boston. These appeals were transferred to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and consolidated with an appeal first filed in the D.C. Circuit by the Center for Regulatory Reasonableness. The consolidated appeals will be heard in the D.C. Court.

The appeals continue to move forward, but the postponement will provide communities with immediate relief from the cost of complying with the permit until the matter is resolved. Philip Guerin, President of MCWRS, stated, “The postponement is very important to our member communities and municipalities across Massachusetts. It will give them a break from excessive spending on stormwater management until the Court rules on some highly contentious permit language. During the postponement, most cities and towns will continue to implement reasonable and effective practices to improve stormwater quality and decrease stormwater quantity, just as they have been doing for many years.”

The MS4 permit regulates municipal stormwater discharges under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. At issue in the appeal is the standard EPA seeks to apply to discharges from municipal storm sewers, which collect rainfall from streets, buildings, and developed areas. MCWRS, Franklin, and numerous municipalities supporting the appeal contend that certain permit conditions exceed EPA’s authority under the CWA. They go far beyond what Congress ever intended EPA might do to regulate municipal stormwater discharges. The MS4 permit applies to over 260 Massachusetts communities. The costs for communities to meet these new water quality standards vary widely, with independent estimates ranging from $260,000 to $750,000 annually for some medium-sized municipalities.

The draft MA MS4 General Permit generated over 1,300 individual comments by more than 150 entities, many of them municipalities impacted by the permit. EPA made some revisions in the final permit, but did not adequately address key issues raised by many municipal interests. The only process to address contentious matters contained in a final NPDES permit is through the courts. The use of the courts to challenge EPA actions is a step frequently employed by environmental advocacy groups in Massachusetts and across the country. This action by MCWRS, the Town of Franklin, and City of Lowell is very much in keeping with that practice.

We thank our contributors and contributing members for their support of the Coalition’s appeal of the MA MS4 General Permit.

Copyright © 2017 Massachusetts Coalition for Water Resources Stewardship, All rights reserved.
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Green Community recognition 4/12

The Medfield Energy Committee was tenacious, working hard over many years to position Medfield to become a Green Community, by satisfying the five required criteria, most recently by crafting a five year plan for a further 20% reduction by the town government’s energy use – that was filed and accepted by DOER over the winter.  The DOER invitation to the Green Community designation event appears below.  The five year plan was a “further” reduction, because the Medfield Energy Committee already had affected over a 30% energy use reduction since MEC first started its work.

It turns out that saving the planet also helps to save the town money.

And, don’t forget that qualifying as a Green Community also gets the town a $148,000 DOER grant, as well as access to future ongoing competitive DOER grants. So doing the right thing also earns the town money.

Westwood used one of the DOER competitive grants ($250,000) to buy and convert all its streetlights to LED fixtures.

Our own streetlight purchase ($1) and LED conversion (in round numbers, about $100,000) is a warrant article at our upcoming town meeting.  In general terms the town would spend about $100,000 to buy and convert to LED’s, get a now available, time limited $30,000 DOER grant to do so, and save about $30,000/year in future reduced electricity charges, for a pay back of the cost to convert in less than three years.

20170412-DOER-GC Event Invitation Medfield

Nancy Irwin & Mary Pat McSharry, 2017 MFi volunteer award nominees

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Nancy Irwin & Mary Pat McSharry, 2017 MFi volunteer award nominees for “their” SWAP area

Nancy and Mary Pat were jointly nominated by Megan Sullivan, Chair of the town’s Transfer Station and Recycling Committee, for recognition by the Medfield Foundation volunteer awards for their work creating the current SWAP area at the Transfer Station. Nancy has been running the SWAP for eight years, Mary Pat for three and a half years.

This was Megan’s nomination of each:


 

Nancy Irwin should be Volunteer of the Year because of her tireless work at the SWAP area that benefits Medfield in many ways.

Nancy has done a wonderful job taking a dumping ground and turning it into a fully-functional swap/reuse area that is an example for other towns.

Since 2009 (or maybe 2010) Nancy has been working to make the swap area better and better. Before Nancy got involved, the SWAP area was a location where people dumped their cardboard boxes of belongings and people searched through them. At the end of the day, everything left was thrown away. With perseverance Nancy has steadily made improvements each yea r. In the first years volunteers would take things home at night and bring them back the next day so they might have another chance to be adopted by someone. And now we have a wonderful covered swap area where items are well organized for display, making them more likely to be taken home, and they can stay for up to 2 weeks. In addition, now when remaining items are moved out if they have not been adopted, Nancy and her crew of volunteers work very hard to make sure only the “truly trash” ends up on the tip floor and everything else is donated or recycled. Nancy has been the leading force behind these changes.

Nancy has worked hand in hand with the DPW to accomplish the changes at the SWAP. A few years ago Nancy joined the Transfer Station and Recycling Committee so the swap area is represented on this committee. She has been a dedicated member. The new tent and paving are the result of her requests to the DPW.

While Nancy has been a SWAP champion (aka Grand Poobah), there are many folks who volunteer to make the SWAP area run during the operating season. (I appreciate all of them too!) Nancy doesn’t hesitate to ask for help and has a great group of volunteers who make the whole area run. Her enthusiasm for the area is contagious. And now that the SWAP is well organized and well-run, new volunteers have come forward to help.

Keeping the volunteers and customers happy isn’t an easy job. Nancy hasn’t let the difficult conversations get in the way of making the SWAP a nice place for the community to gather and find a treasure and for the town to reduce the waste generated by offering an easy place for reuse.

More often than not from 9am – 4pm Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from May – October you will find Nancy Irwin at the SWAP area. She is a dedicated volunteer who generously donates her time to make the SWAP area a fun, pleasant and important place for Medfield and one that is key to reducing the amount of trash the town disposes of. I’ve heard from many folks that the SWAP is one of their favorite things about Medfield … and Nancy Irwin is to thank for that.

 


 

Mary Pat McSharry is an incredible volunteer for the SWAP area and for this reason I am nominating her for Volunteer of the Year. Mary Pat has been a partner with Nancy Irwin in the management of the SWAP area since September 2013. As Mary Pat explains, one afternoon she came by and dropped some items off and never left. Until that time she hadn’t even heard of the SWAP. And since then she’s been an amazing volunteer!

Mary Pat has been wonderful for the SWAP area. She is very creative and she is responsible for the logistics, the layout of the tent area and keeping things looking fresh. She is pleasant and helpful to people at the SWAP. In addition, her creativity shines through in the creations she makes from and suggests for items in the SWAP area. She’s always creating. The signs that indicate different areas in the SWAP area were made by Mary Pat from repurposed treasures. The new sign made from a headboard that is outside the mattress recycling container is one of Mary Pat’s. She heard of the need and offered to make the sign, repurposing something that was headed toward the trash and at the same time saving the Town the cost of purchasing a new sign.

Mary Pat has also personally donated supplies for the swap area. The tent that has been used for electronics the past 3 years was a personal donation. In addition, she has not (but should have!) asked for reimbursement for the supplies such as tape and lanyards that she has purchased to keep the swap area running smoothly. You can tell her heart is in the volunteer work she does for the SWAP. She would rather things be running properly than worry about who is paying for them.

Mary Pat is a tireless advocate for the SWAP and attends meetings of the Transfer Station and Recycling Committee when she can. She is committed to a well-running swap area and puts in the energy to make that happen.

More often than not from 9am – 4pm Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from May – October you will find Mary Pat McSharry at the SWAP area. Cold and rainy or in the middle of a heat wave, she is there.  She is a dedicated volunteer who generously donates her time to make the SWAP area a fun, pleasant and important place for Medfield and one that is key to reducing the amount of trash the town disposes of. Mary Pat McSharry is one of the dedicated volunteers to thank for that.

Energy Reduction Plan adopted

The Medfield Energy Committee has worked for upwards of five years to have the town adopt the Green Communities Act, and this week the last required piece was completed when both the Board of Selectmen and the School Department  adopted the Medfield Energy Committee’s extensively detailed Energy Reduction Plan that lays out how we will seek to achieve a 20% energy use reduction over the next five years.

The Energy Reduction Plan is remarkably thoughtful and detailed, and comes on top of the Medfield Energy Committee already having guided the town to achieve a 30+% reduction in energy use by the town since the Committee was created eight years ago.  The Town of Medfield is indeed doing its part on our local level to avoid climate change, plus the town is saving money by using less energy.

I uploaded the major Energy Reduction Plan materials, the written plan and the spreadsheet that details each of the proposals.  What is missing are the appendices, which contain detailed reports on each town building done by Rise and AECOM, and committee member Fred Davis’ analysis of the savings we can achieve by buying our streetlights from their current owner, EverSource, and installing LED heads, which I analysis have included in the past.

20161114-medfield-energy-reduction-plan-2016-final

20161114-medfield-green-communities-table-4-final

Below are the letters to DOER confirming the town’s adoption of the Energy Reduction Plan.  This entitles the town to the $148,000 DOER adoption grant this year, and now allows the town to compete for the DOER annual competitive grants of up to $250,000 per year.  Westwood just used such a $250,000 competitive grant to buy its streetlights and to install its LED heads.

TOWNOFMEDFIETD fficeof BOARD OF SELECTMEN TOWN HOUSE,459 MAIN STREET MEDFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS 02052.2009 (s08) 3se-8sos MICIIAELJ. ST]LLTVAI Town Administrator November t5,ZOLG Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Green Communities Division L00 Cambridge Street, Suite 1040 Boston, MA 02114 To Whom lt MaY Concern: please be advised that on November L5,2OL6 the Medfield Board of Selectmen at a duly called and posted meeting voted to adopt the Energy Reduction Plan for Criterion 3 of the Green Communities Application for Designation. The Board of Selectmen was given copies of the plan for review prior to the meeting' The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to adopt the plan and the minutes of the meeting include that vote. Sincerely, leRlb% MichaelJ. Sullivan Town Administrator Mrnnsro Punrrc ScHooLS Office of the Superintendent 459 Main Street - 3"d Floor Medfield, Massachusefts 02052 November 14,2016 Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Green Communities Division 100 Cambridge Street, Suite 1040 Boston, MA 02114 To Whom It May Concern: Please be advised that the town school district, Medfield Public Schools, adopts the Medfield Energy Reduction Plan as part of the Town's Green Communities Application for Designation. Superintendent of Medfield Public Schools Jeffrey J. Marsden, Ed.D - Superintendent jmarsden@email.medfi eld.net (508) 359-230220161114-medfield-gca-town-school-letters_page_2

MHC on LCB

The Massachusetts Historic Commission wrote the letter below to the Medfield Historic Commission about the LCB proposal –


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MS4, stormwater regulations, appeal status

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MS4 Appeal Status

This email was forwarded by Mike Sullivan this afternoon, which email explains that the coalition of towns appealing the new federal stormwater regulations is entering a  litigation phase.


Dear MS4 Contributors,

 

The following update was provided to MCWRS members via our newsletter. I also wanted to share the latest information with those of you who have contributed to the appeal or plan to.

 

On August 24, 2016, MCWRS and the Town of Franklin jointly filed a Petition for Review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Final MA Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) General Permit with the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. Prior to the MCWRS/Franklin appeal, the Center for Regulatory Reasonableness (CRR) filed an appeal in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in Washington, D.C. Several events have occurred since these two initial filings. Three additional appeals were filed in the First Circuit – by the City of Lowell, the National Association of Home Builders/Home Builders Association of MA, and the Conservation Law Foundation/Charles River Watershed Association (CLF/CRWA).

The U.S. Department of Justice (on behalf of EPA) has filed a motion to transfer the appeals filed by MCWRS, Lowell, National Association of Home Builders, and CLF to the D.C. Circuit. The transfer request was triggered by the CRR appeal first filed in the D.C. Circuit, and EPA’s submittal of the Administrative Record Index to that court. The appeals are expected to be transferred. Meanwhile, in the First Circuit, MCWRS/Franklin filed a motion to intervene in the CLF/CRWA appeal on the ground that other parties in that case (i.e. EPA) would not protect the municipalities’ interests in that case. CLF/CRWA’s position is that the MS4 Permit does not go far enough. CLF/CRWA have filed motions to intervene in all of the pending appeals.

Our attorneys are prepared to submit briefs and oral arguments in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. We will continue to keep you apprised of events related to this critically important action to protect Massachusetts communities’ interests. Read the full press release on the MCWRS website for complete details on the announcement.

 

Going forward, now that the appeal is filed all communications between MCWRS and its attorneys are privileged and confidential. Additionally, since as public agencies you are all subject to public records laws, we do not want to supply updates via email that may include sensitive information and strategies. Instead, we think a periodic conference call may be the safest and best way to provide our supporters with updates. Of course, we would also not want you to share details of the call content via email with anyone else in your department or other town staff as they would be subject to the same public records regulations. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about our planned approach to keeping you updated.

 

As always, we greatly appreciate your support in this important matter!

 

Best regards,

Kate

 

 

 

Kate Barrett

Vice President for Public Involvement

Regina Villa Associates, Inc.

51 Franklin Street, Suite 400

Boston, MA 02110

Warning -wonky material

The alert below from the MMA – I just called Senator Timilty’s office, and also thanked him for sponsoring the pending legislation to make work spaces handicap accessible.

MMA

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

URGENT: YOUR LEGISLATOR WILL VOTE NEXT WEEK ON IMPORTANT ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION FILED BY GOV. BAKER

  1. 4254 WOULD ALLOW THE STATE TO OVERSEE FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMS – INCLUDING MS4 STORMWATER PERMITS

THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT, NATURAL RESOURCES AND AGRICULTURE EXPECTED TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARING ON H. 4254 NEXT WEEK…

…AND YOUR LEGISLATOR IS ON THE COMMITTEE THAT WILL DECIDE WHETHER THE BILL MOVES FORWARD

PLEASE CALL TODAY AND ASK YOUR LEGISLATOR TO SUPPORT AND VOTE IN FAVOR OF H. 4254 IN COMMITTEE

The Legislation is Necessary to Allow MassDEP to have “Delegated Authority” over Federal Water Quality Regulatory Programs

 

Over the past year, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has been examining the possibility of obtaining authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the National Pollutants Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. Governor Baker recently filed H. 4254, An Act to Enable the Commonwealth’s Administration of the Massachusetts Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. Please click here to see Governor Baker’s press release and a link to the bill text.

The bill is expected to have a hearing before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture early next week. MMA is urging local officials in the districts of committee members to contact your legislators right away and ask them to support this important legislation. Please see the contact information for your legislators at the end of this alert.

NPDES is the federal regulatory program, currently administered by the EPA, that includes permits, compliance, inspection, and enforcement activities for facilities that discharge effluent into surface waters (such as municipal wastewater treatment plants), as well as stormwater systems managed by over 250 cities and towns.

The MMA has been very involved in this discussion over the past few months, through participation in MassDEP’s NPDES advisory group and conversations with the Administration. The MMA will testify in support of this legislation at the public hearing, but it is very important that legislators on the committee hear from their local officials on this issue.

The Governor’s legislation is an essential step in MassDEP’s obtaining delegation over this program. The bill would make technical changes to the state’s Clean Waters Act to make it consistent with federal law. The bill also specifically authorizes MassDEP to begin to process of applying to the EPA for delegation.

There are many advantages to having MassDEP manage and oversee the NPDES and MS4 stormwater permit process, including:

  • DEP has a much stronger relationship with cities and towns than the EPA;
  • DEP has much more experience working with local officials, and has a much better understanding of our cities and towns than the EPA;
  • Permitting decisions would be based on local conditions and more thorough up-to-date data;
  • Having DEP oversee the MS4 stormwater and NPDES programs would provide many more opportunities for integrated water management;
  • DEP would offer enhanced technical assistance – they are already planning on coordinating technical assistance and information sharing on stormwater issues; and
  • Delegated authority would allow DEP to provide better information on water quality conditions across the Commonwealth.

This bill will not change the new MS4 stormwater regulations recently released by the EPA, but MMA believes that MassDEP’s greater understanding of our cities and towns would lead to greater flexibility and responsiveness as the permits are implemented. And MassDEP would have a greater role in shaping future permit requirements. If DEP does not have delegated authority over NPDES programs, a more removed federal agency (U.S. EPA) will continue to develop and enforce the regulations for Massachusetts.

If you are receiving this action alert, your community is in the district of one or more members of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. Please look for your legislator’s name and phone number below and contact them right away to ask them to support H. 4254. It is very important that your legislators hear from local officials BEFORE the public hearing, which is expected to be early next week, which is why we are asking you to call today.

Senate Committee Members:

Anne M. Gobi, Senate Chair, 617-722-1540

Michael F. Rush, Senate Vice Chair, 617-722-1348

James B. Eldridge, 617-722-1120

James E. Timilty, 617 722-1222

Thomas M. McGee, 617-722-1350

Ryan C. Fattman, 617-722-1420

 

House Committee Members:

Paul A. Schmid, House Chair, 617-722-2210

Brian R. Mannal, House Vice Chair, 617-722-2210

Robert M. Koczera, 617-722-2582

Carolyn C. Dykema, 617-722-2680

Mary S. Keefe, 617-722-2210

Christine P. Barber, 617-722-2430

James M. Kelcourse, 617-722-2130

James M. Cantwell, 617-722-2140

Josh S. Cutler, 617-722-2210

Jay D. Livingstone, 617-722-2396

Donald R. Berthiaume, 617-722-2090

 

Please Contact your Legislators Today and Ask Them to Support H. 4254 at the Public Hearing Next Week

Thank You Very Much!