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Editor’s Note: major portions of this report are a press release from MassDEP

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BOSTON –  To advance local waterway pollution control efforts, the Baker-Polito Administration today, May 25, announced more than $800,000 in grants administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protect (MassDEP) to support four projects targeting stormwater runoff and erosion across the Commonwealth.

The grants, which utilize funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded under section 319 of the Clean Water Act, will fund projects based in the Town of Braintree, the City of Framingham, and Berkshire County, as well as a statewide project focusing on watershed restoration on farms.

One of the grants went to the City of Framingham for efforts at Lake Waushakum in the Coburnville-Tripoli Neighborhood.

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“The Baker-Polito Administration continues to place a high priority on investments in management of water resources in order to prevent water pollution and preserve the Commonwealth’s rivers, lakes, and ponds,” said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “By working with our federal partners, these grants will help local officials enhance vital community watershed resources and protect them for future generations.”

The grant program focuses on implementation of measures to control nonpoint source (NPS) pollution to both surface and groundwater. Unlike pollution from industrial facilities and sewage treatment plants, NPS pollution is unregulated and comes from a variety of sources. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground.

As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and ground waters. Two of the recommended projects will implement best management practices (BMPs) to mitigate the effects of polluted stormwater runoff and two projects will support public outreach and education and involve healthy watershed projects.

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“EPA is proud to support the efforts of MassDEP in cleaning up rivers and streams, lakes, and coastal areas all over Massachusetts, using EPA funding provided under Clean Water Act Section 319,” said EPA Region 1 Administrator David W. Cash. “This funding source is vital for reducing nonpoint source pollution throughout New England and the Nation. This year as we celebrate 50 years of the Clean Water Act, I’m encouraged by how far the Commonwealth has come in addressing water quality issues and I am optimistic about the future because of projects like those the Commonwealth is announcing today.”

Common types of NPS pollution include phosphorus and nitrogen from lawn and garden fertilizers and agricultural operations, bacteria from pet waste and waterfowl, oil and grease from parking lots and roadways, and sediment from construction activities and soil erosion.

The selected projects will help to protect Massachusetts’ water resources by restoring and preserving watershed areas, constructing BMPs, demonstrating innovative technologies, and educating the public on how to protect sensitive natural resources.

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“These projects allow the Baker-Polito Administration to continue to build strong bonds with our regional and municipal partners and other stakeholders to help control nonpoint source contamination,” said Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “These investments are critical to preserving and protecting our clean water ecosystems across the Commonwealth.”

City of Framingham will receive $249,980 for the Lake Waushakum project.

The project will result in the design and construction of BMPs to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff discharging into Lake Waushakum, improving water quality in the 82-acre kettle pond located in Framingham and Ashland.

“Increased stormwater runoff and pollution in erosion sites are just some of the effects of climate change already being felt in Massachusetts,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Lake Waushakum, in Framingham and Ashland, epitomizes why these grants awarded by MassDEP are so necessary; after being closed to the public for three years due to pollution brought in through stormwater runoff, today’s announcement means the lake will be cleaned and redesigned to prevent future discharge. I thank the Environmental Protection Agency for their attention to the needs of Massachusetts communities, and MassDEP for their advocacy and work to coordinate multiple stakeholders and levels of government in order to protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources.”

“Children and adults will welcome the access to safe and clean beach waters to relax in the summer heat at Lake Waushakum, which this project generously funded through MassDEP,” said State Representative Carmine Gentile (D-Sudbury). “MassDEP protects our conservation lands and all the flora and fauna which live there, in addition to keeping our freshwater recreation venues safe and clean.”

Town of Braintree: Watson Park BMP Implementation Project – $375,000. The project will result in the construction of BMPs in Watson Park to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff discharging into the Monatiquot River and the Weymouth Fore River.

Geosyntec Consultants: Massachusetts Watershed-Based Plans-Enhancement and Implementation Project – $139,400: The project will update and enhance the Watershed-Based Plan (WBP) web tool now being used by MassDEP’s regional partners and will help complete at least seven WBPs across the Commonwealth.

Housatonic Valley Association: Increasing the Pace of On-Farm Watershed Restoration in Berkshire County – $96,024: The project will create a new Agricultural Nonpoint Source coordinator position to lead the planning and implementation of BMPs to reduce agricultural related NPS pollution. It will also establish a new partnership between the Housatonic Valley Association, Hoosic River Watershed Association, Berkshire Conservation District, and Berkshire Agricultural Ventures to reduce agricultural NPS pollution in the Housatonic and Hoosic watersheds and to remove existing water quality impairments.

“Addressing Lake Waushakum’s water quality issues requires close partnerships between local, state, and federal leaders, and this award is one vital piece of the solution,” said State Representative Jack Lewis (D-Ashland). “This essential funding will further address pollution runoff and overall water quality issues in this beautiful body of water that connects Ashland and Framingham.”  

With the addition of the federal funding awarded today under the grant programs, the Commonwealth and EPA have provided more than $22 million since 2007 for 128 projects to address NPS pollution across the state

By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.