MA DEP Delays Plan To Reduce Water Pollution

Aug 9, 2017

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is postponing a new plan designed to reduce water pollution caused by stormwater runoff from 260 municipalities.

New limits on how much polluted stormwater can flow from sewer pipes into streams, rivers and the ocean, laid out by the small MS4 general permit, were supposed to take effect July 1. However, at the end of June, the Environmental Protection Agency notified the public of the program's postponement. The limits are now expected to take effect at the federal level July 1, 2018. 

Ed Coletta, spokesman for MassDEP, said in a statement the department will also delay its implementation because Massachusetts is a non-delegated state, meaning stormwater permits are issued jointly by MassDEP and the New England EPA office.  

"In an effort to avoid duplicative or contradictory requirements with federal permit requirements, MassDEP has historically acted in concert with federal permit requirements," Coletta said.

Coletta said the department's decision to change its implementation schedule has also been supported by more than 50 cities and towns. 

Julia Blatt, executive director of the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance, said her organization does not support the delay. She said it's worrisome that the state is following the lead of a presidential administration that is against environmental protection.

"Environment isn’t just about animals and trees and canoeing. It’s about public health and it’s about public safety. So by trying to weaken environmental protections, the Trump administration will be harming the quality of life for everybody in our country," Blatt said.

The 260 cities and towns in Massachusetts are still required to comply with polluted stormwater runoff limits set in 2003