This is the introduction to the listing and public comment process published on the MA DEP website. The previous page was our public comments regarding this process. Much of the focus of those comments is on the failure of the DEP to assess the upper segment of the Taunton Great River. Which is about 19 miles in length and receives an average of about 23 million gallons of effluent per day from sewer treatment plants.

 

 

10/1/2002 (4)

Proposed Listing for Public Comment CN:125.1

Massachusetts Year 2002 Integrated List of Waters

Part 1 - Context and Rationale for Assessing and Reporting the

Quality of Massachusetts Surface Waters

CN: 125.1

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Executive Office of Environmental Affairs

Bob Durand, Secretary

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Lauren A. Liss, Commissioner

Bureau of Resource Protection

Cynthia Giles, Assistant Commissioner

Division of Watershed Management

Glenn Haas, Director

October, 2002

 

 

INTRODUCTION

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 (FWPCA) and subsequent Amendments in 1977,

1981 and 1987 are collectively known as the Clean Water Act (CWA). The objective of this Act is to

restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nationís waters. As one

step toward meeting this goal the CWA requires states to develop information on the quality of their

water resources and report this information to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the

U.S. Congress, and the public. Each state must establish a program to monitor and assess the

quality of its surface and groundwater and report on its findings. The ß 305(b) Summary of Water

Quality Report, submitted to the EPA every two years and supplemented by annual electronic

updates, is the primary reporting mechanism used by the states for this purpose. EPA compiles the

individual state reports into a national report to Congress on the status of water quality nationwide.

The 305(b) Report presents the status of water resources with respect to their capacity to support

designated uses as defined in each of the statesí surface water quality standards. These uses

include aquatic life support, fish and shellfish consumption, drinking water supply, and primary

(e.g., swimming) and secondary (e.g., boating) contact-recreation. The 305(b) process entails

assessing each of these uses for rivers, lakes and coastal waters. Where possible, causes and

sources of use impairment are also identified.

 

It is not enough, however, to simply describe the status of water quality if polluted waters are to

be restored and protected from problems in the future. Section 303(d) of the CWA and the

implementing regulations at 40 CFR 130.7 require states to identify those waterbodies that are not

expected to meet surface water quality standards after the implementation of technology-based

controls and to prioritize and schedule each of them for the development of a total maximum daily

load (TMDL). A TMDL establishes the maximum amount of a pollutant that may be introduced into

a waterbody and still ensure attainment and maintenance of water quality standards.

Furthermore, a TMDL must also allocate that acceptable pollutant load among all potential

sources. The sum total of all pollutant load allocations, including those for point and nonpoint

pollution sources as well as an allowance for natural background loads and a margin of safety,

cannot exceed the total maximum allowable pollutant load calculated for the receiving water.

This document (Part 1) presents the methodology used for assessing waters in Massachusetts for

the purpose of reporting on their status in the 305(b) Report and listing impaired waters in

accordance with ß 303(d). A brief description of the Massachusetts water quality monitoring,

assessment and management program is followed by a more detailed description of how water

resource data and related information are used to assess the level to which waters are supporting

their designated uses. In addition, the assumptions and procedures that guide the preparation of

the Massachusetts 303(d) "List of Impaired Waters" are provided, resulting in a complete

description of two of the reporting elements under the Clean Water Act. The 2002 version of these

reporting elements, combined into a single integrated list of Massachusetts waters, is presented in

Part 2. It presents the status of individual waterbodies based on their most recent assessments and

represents the combined report to the EPA under sections 305(b) and 303(d) for 2002.

BACKGROUND - THE CLEAN WATER ACT

Two overarching approaches to enhancing and maintaining the integrity of the Nationís waters are

reflected in the provisions of the CWA. One approach focuses on the application of technology based

standards, while the second is based on regulating pollutant discharges in consideration of

their effects on receiving water quality. Amendments to the Act over the years have placed greater

or lesser emphasis on one or the other strategy while retaining elements of both. The Water Quality

Act of 1965 first required federally-approved standards for interstate waters and by the late 1960ís

most states had adopted minimum standards for a wide variety of uses. The adoption of these

standards alone, however, did not prove effective in ameliorating water quality. What was missing

was a framework for directly linking the water quality standards to mandatory pollution control

activities. While the statute did call for the development of plans for implementing and enforcing the

standards, little guidance was offered on what these plans should entail. Therefore, implementation

plans were rarely produced and progress toward abating pollution remained largely a matter of

informal negotiation between state officials and the wastewater dischargers.

With passage of the 1972 FWPCA, the rather ineffective water quality-based program described

above gave way to a focus on wastewater treatment performance standards. Although this

legislation was the first to introduce the goal of achieving water quality, which would provide for "the

protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife" and "recreation in and on the water" (socalled

"fishable/swimmable"), the FWPCA emphasized the adoption and implementation of national

effluent standards. Throughout the 1970ís effluent limitations based primarily on treatment

technology were included in National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) wastewater

discharge permits. Moreover, this Act provided for the appropriation of large sums of money to pay

for the construction of sewage collection and treatment infrastructure. This led to broad-brush

implementation of secondary treatment at most publicly-owned treatment works (POTWs) and the

application of categorical (e.g., "best available treatment" or BAT) requirements to industrial

wastewater discharges. These measures were very successful in substantially reducing pollutant

loadings to the Nationís surface waters. Nonetheless, many of those waters were still not "fishable"

or "swimmable".

 

Subsequent revisions to the CWA redirected water quality management programs back toward

water quality-based planning and permitting. Inherent in this approach was the strengthening of

Stateís ambient water quality standards programs. Increased concern in the 1980ís for toxic

contamination led to the derivation of ambient water quality criteria for pollutants, such as heavy

metals and synthetic organic chemicals that are harmful to fish and other aquatic organisms. These

criteria represented scientific assessments of the effects on human health and aquatic life of

pollutants present in water but by themselves were non-regulatory. When these or alternative

criteria were adopted in state water quality standards, however, they became enforceable numbers

not to be exceeded in receiving waters. Section 304(l) of the Water Quality Act of 1987 required

states to identify waters affected by toxics and incorporate into wastewater discharge permits

individual control strategies (ICS) for reducing toxic pollutant loadings to acceptable levels.

While progress toward cleaning up the Nationís waters was certainly realized through the

implementation of the various programs described above, states continued to report in their 305(b)

reports that many waters were not meeting their intended uses. During the 1990ís several lawsuits

were brought against the EPA for failure to require the states to submit lists of impaired waters and

calculate TMDLs in accordance with the requirements of ß 303(d). As a result, TMDLs have

become the mechanism for translating the goals embodied in the water quality standards into the

measures that will achieve those goals.

 

In theory TMDLs represent a logical approach for achieving surface water quality goals and

addressing waters where existing controls are inadequate to achieve water quality standards.

However, the complexity of TMDLs varies considerably and while some can be derived through

rather simple "desk-top" calculations, many require the use of sophisticated loading and receiving

water predictive models that require substantial data for proper calibration and verification. Because

the monitoring and modeling efforts required for the development of TMDLs can be very labor intensive

states have estimated that a large increase in funding and personnel will be needed if they

are to complete TMDLs for all of their 303(d)-listed waters within a reasonable period of time.

Moreover, the high costs predicted for TMDL programs nationwide over the next several years

underscores the need for states to accurately assess their waters using credible scientific data so

that only truly impaired waters are included on 303(d) lists and limited resources for TMDL development are

allotted to those waters most in need of restoration.

 

To see complete document go here