The Massachusetts Coalition for Water Resources Stewardship recently submitted a comment letter to MassDEP urging the agency to withdraw its proposed revisions to the state’s Water Management Act (WMA) regulations. The WMA regulates water withdrawals in the Commonwealth. In a July 10 letter, submitted on behalf of its more than 40 member organizations, Coalition President Phil Guerin stated that the proposed changes are unnecessary, lack environmental benefit and have the potential to raise the cost of delivering safe drinking water to customers for residential and business use, as well as fire protection. They will also divert local funds from urgently needed water infrastructure investments, at a time when municipal revenues collected for water treatment and delivery are declining due to successful water conservation measures. The WMA revisions are based on the state’s Sustainable Water Management Initiative (SWMI) framework.
The Coalition made the following points in its letter:
- Based on MassDEP’s own figures, since 1985, water conservation measures have resulted in a decline in daily water use and withdrawals from major river basins across the state. Why change course, when these programs are such a resounding success?
- There is no commitment to a program to measure outcomes.
- Models using fish counts as a surrogate for habitat quality have questionable accuracy.
- Costs will fall directly on the shoulders of ratepayers and no estimates have been provided, and once again there will be no help from the state in paying for the new mandates.
- There is a high level of uncertainty about what communities will be required to do to comply until they are negotiating permits, which makes planning impossible.
Read the complete comment letter for more details.