This appendix lists the major issues in the North Coastal watersheds,
with some breakdown by subwatershed systems. Included is background information
on specific issues that arose during the public input phase of this project. Additional
reference material and input from community members is available on the “Comments”
section of the website, http://www.northcoastal.net/ncw/forum_main.asp.
The website documents the source of the comments in most cases – readers should
interpret any data which is undocumented in this report as from the website
comments section, where source citations can be found.
Bennett’s Pond Brook
Town Line Brook
Frost Fish Brook
C1. Saugus River subwatershed
River subwatershed occupies 47
square miles (122 km2), originating at the outlet of Lake
Quannapowitt in Wakefield. This Class B Treated Water Supply flows from
the outlet at the lake in an easterly direction and forms the border between Wakefield,
Lynnfield just west of Rt95/128. The
river flows through the 540 acre Reedy Meadow where it is joined by Beaverdam
Brook, which drains the central area of the town of Lynnfield. The river turns south, flows past the
Colonial Golf and Country Club into an impoundment where the Lynn Water and
Sewer Commission can divert the river as a water supply. The river receives
flow from four tributaries in its freshwater reach including Beaverdam Brook, Mill
River, Hawkes Brook, and Bennets
Pond Brook. Below the Saugus Iron Works
the river becomes a tidal estuary. Shute
Brook discharges into the tidal Saugus
River and is later joined by the Pines
River. The tidal currents carry the river flow into Lynn
Harbor, Broad Sound and Massachusetts
Bay. The length of the
river is 13 miles.
The 2003 Water
Quality Report for the Saugus River Watershed found that 32% of the samples
collected in failed to meet the federal water quality criteria for swimming,
and 19% failed to meet the federal water quality criteria for boating.
Approximately 10% of the samples collected were below the state recommended
minimum of 5 mg/l of dissolved oxygen for a fresh water fishery. The watershed
showed no significant problems associated with pH or conductance during 2003.
The full document is available on www.NorthCoastal.net/ncw/Docs/
The Town Line
Brook and its tributaries (Linden
and Trifone Brook) drain into the Pines
River before it meets up with the Saugus
River. The Saugus
River subwatershed includes Lake
Quannapowitt and Town Line Brook
which are detailed separately in sections C6 and C8 below. An NPS construction
project is detailed in C10.
C2. Nahant Bay subwatershed
The Nahant Bay
subwatershed is highly developed as urban and suburban land. Out of its total of 7,595 acres, 2,787 acres
(or 36.7%) of the land is impervious surface and 62.2% of the land use is
residential. Because of these and other
factors, storm water runoff is a major issue here.
The Nahant Bay
subwatershed includes seven communities, comprising major portions of Marblehead,
Swampscott, Lynn and Nahant. It is divided up into four subwatersheds – Lynn
Beach, and Stony Brook. Although it is a highly developed area, the subwatershed
contains about 1,010 acres of open space.
The subwatershed has three bodies of water on the Massachusetts
section 303d list of impaired water bodies.
itself is on the list as well as Floating Bridge. (See Appendix F, category 5
The Salem Sound subwatershed is a predominately
urban area made up of six communities.
The communities consist of Beverly,
and Salem. The portion of Manchester
that drains to Salem Sound is a mixed rocky and sandy beach coastline. The eastern portion of Beverly
has large sections of sandy beach that are erosional zones, with few marshes.
With ten bodies of water on the Massachusetts
section 303d list of impaired water bodies, water quality continues to be a
main priority in this system. The major
tributary to Salem Sound, the Danvers
River, and two of its tributaries, Crane
River and Waters
River are on the list as well as
two other tributaries to the Sound, North River and Forest
River. It has 7,668 acres of impervious surface, or
27% of the entire system (total acreage 28,899 acres).
Salem Sound is divided up into thirteen sub-basins, several
of which are small rivers that flow directly into the sea. They are as follows: Chubb Creek, Beverly Rocks, Beverly
River, Frost Fish Brook, Crane
River, Proctor Brook, Goldthwaite
Brook, North River, Salem
River and Marblehead
Harbor. A large portion of Salem
Sound is residential (42%) with 22% forest and 14% open land. It also has a significant amount of land
dedicated to commercial, industrial, and transportation uses.
C4. Cape Anne subwatershed
The Cape Ann subwatershed is the
largest system in the North Coastal Watershed at 38,558 acres. Gloucester,
Rockport and communities southeast attract thousands of tourists each year. The
coastline here is most noted for its rocky headlands and shallow soils covering
ledge. Many people in this region depend
on fishing (lobstering, finfishing, and shellfishing) and tourism. The upper North
and Essex, are most noted for their long barrier
beaches, estuaries, salt and fresh water systems and poorly drained soils. Portions of Cape Ann
include the Great Marsh Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). A total of eight communities make up the Cape
Ann System. They include the above
mentioned along with Manchester,
Wenham, Hamilton and Beverly.
The land use is predominately
forest at 51.9% with residential and wetlands at 22.1% and 10.5%
respectively. While the total system has
2,634 acres (6.8%) of impervious surface, it is mostly concentrated in the
coastal areas. The major routes include
Route 128, 133, 127 and the commuter rail.
The Cape Ann System is divided in fourteen sub-basins. They are:
Alewife Brook, Annisquam River,
Beaches, Cat Brook, Chebacco Lake,
Beach, Halibut Point, Lanesville, Rockport
Harbor, Sawmill Brook, Walker
Creek and Wolf Trap. It has nine bodies of water on the Massachusetts
section 303d list of impaired water bodies.
These include Gloucester,
Rockport and Manchester Harbors
as well as Essex and Annisquam
River. Some of the main issues in this area include
development and growth rates along the coast as well as potential for growth
inland. Major issues:
Adequate Water Supply
Combined Sewer Overflows
The Salisbury/Amesbury subwatershed is located in the
northeastern corner of Massachusetts. Salisbury
Beach, a popular and heavily
visited recreation area, is a coarse sand barrier beach stretching from the
Massachusetts/New Hampshire border to the mouth of the Merrimac
River. Behind the beach is a salt marsh system that
is part of the Great Marsh ecosystem.
The Salisbury/Amesbury subwatershed is the smallest in the
North Coastal Watershed at 5,337 acres and is made up of largely forest and
wetlands. Most of its residential areas
are low to medium density with a higher density near the coastline. It has 468
acres (or 8.8%) of impervious surface and no bodies of water on the Massachusetts
section 303d list of impaired water bodies.
It is mostly located in Salisbury
with a very small portion in Amesbury.
It is divided into two sub-basins, Blackwater
River and Smallpox Brook. A large industrial park is located adjacent
to Smallpox Brook between I-95 and US 1.
Constructed in 1973, wetlands were filled resulting in problems with
drainage and sewage treatment. Another
issue in this subwatershed is runoff from I-95 and US 1. Due to gaps in sufficient water quality
data, this subwatershed could benefit from more studies in the future.
C6. Lake Quannapowitt
(Saugus River subwatershed)
Reedy Meadow, a distinctive 540-acre freshwater marshland,
along with Lake Quannapowitt
form the headwaters of the Saugus River.
in Wakefield is the largest lake
(at 254 acres) of the 85 lakes and ponds in the watershed. Lake
Quannapowitt was a water supply
briefly in 1957 during a drought. Arsenic was introduced into the lake in the
early 1960s to deal with aquatic weeds.
Water quality testing indicates that 65% of the phosphorous
comes from storm drains, 22% from lake sediments, and the rest from direct
runoff. Fertilizer and goose droppings
are major sources of nutrients in direct runoff.
Beginning in 1999, the Friends
of Lake Quannapowitt holds a watershed awareness program with an outdoor
classroom for all children that graduate the public school system. The Friends
of Lake Quannapowitt (FOLQ) website is at http://www.wakefield.org/folq/folq.htm
The lake is overpopulated with Canada
Geese. A program needs to be developed
and implemented to reduce the geese population to a sustainable level.
There is a problem with excessive weed and algae
growth. The problem has been linked to
excessive nutrient levels in the lake.
Establishing a buffer zone along abutting
streets (which currently offer no impediment to lawn fertilizer running
directly into the lake during rain events).
To improve the lake’s quality to acceptable
levels, the Town must address the stormwater problem. Treatment systems need to
be developed and put in place.
In the long term, arsenic contamination (from
the 1960s weeding program) can only be removed by dredging. The flow rates in
the lake are insufficient to remove heavy metals from the lake sediment, but
sufficient so that leaching keeps measurable arsenic levels in some lake
C7. Chebacco Lake (Cape
is on DEP’s integrated list of impaired waters under Category 4 (“Impaired b
ynon-pollutants”) and was formerly 303(d)
listed (impaired). In 1999, DEM and Salem State College participated in
a series of workshops and presentations on a study of Chebacco
Lake. In 2003, the Chebacco Lake
Association wrote a series of articles in the Hamilton-Wenham Chronicle to
publicize the issues about the lake. Nearby residents claim that Chebacco
Lake is contaminated.
DEP has issued a fish contamination advisory. The lake has high mercury levels
and problems with noxious plants including nonnative plants (fanwort).
Residential development is claimed to be the main threat. The 303d listing
indicates the lake is eutrophic and rated as:
Fish consumption-non supportive
Primary contact recreation 1/2 supportive, 1/2
Secondary contact recreation- 1/2 supportive,
Aesthetics- 1/2 supportive, 1/2 non-supportive
Need to develop and implement a plan to control
noxious plants and eliminate nonnative
Need to develop and implement a plan to
determine if excessive nutrients contribute to the plant problem. If excessive nutrients are present, develop a
plan to identify the sources and control the nutrients.
Develop a plan to identify and eliminate
the sources of mercury.
Locate sources of mercury within the lake and
determine if they can be removed without increasing the environmental impact.
Develop a plan to fund and implement the recommendations of
Report: Town Line Brook Hydraulics And Hydrology Study
The authors found through modeling and qualitative analysis
that several solutions could be implemented singly or in combination to provide
a noticeable improvement in not only flooding, but also water quality, and
habitat. These alternatives were compiled into a preferred approach. The
alternatives consists of the following:
- Install tide gates at the Linden Brook culvert to
make available additional storage (as much as 10 to 13 ac-ft) at high tide
when the SRTs are not set closed.
- Install tide gates on Trifone Brook culvert to
protect upstream areas from excessive downstream water surface elevations.
- Set SRTs to close at elevation 2’ NGVD (they are
currently permitted to close at 4’ during the winter months and 5’ during
- Create approximately 76.8 ac-ft of offline storage on
the main channel in combination with wetland restoration consistent with
adjusted SRT closing elevation.
- Dredge the channel of approximately 4000 cubic yards
of sediment that have accumulated in lined reaches.
- Increase flood dike height to 9’ NGVD at all
Implement the report’s recommendations for improving water
- Training sessions for state and local public
- Community Meetings.
- Storm Drain Stenciling.
- On-Site Cleanup Projects.
- Natural History Events / Youth education programs.
- Pet Waste Initiative.
- Stormwater Best Management Practices.
C9. Lynn Woods (Saugus River and Salem Sound subwatersheds)
Lynn Woods consists of 2,200 acres of city-owned property
plus 400 acres of surrounding woods. There are 40 miles of legal trails
(although bicyclists often go off-trail, which is a problem). Lynn Woods
contains four reservoirs, which is Lynn’s
water supply. The City of Lynn now
employs a park ranger (Dan Small) so that many schools send field trips to Lynn
Woods and the previous litter problem is diminished, so the woods are now in
pretty good shape. Lynn Woods has a small invasive weed problem – knotweed,
some Norwegian Maple, and loosestrife. Arsenic, which was introduced in the
Lynn Woods, had no clear means of having been dispersed or removed, so a study
might locate arsenic contamination.
C10. Saugus Iron Works (Saugus River subwatershed)
The National Park Service runs the Saugus Iron Works
National Historic Site. The site covers 9 acres along both banks of the Saugus
River. A large-scale restoration
project is proposed, which would restore the half of the park alongside and in
the Saugus River.
The goal would be to restore the marsh and restore flow, but not in the main
channel (which requires a different permit). The actions would remove 18 inches
of peat layer from phragmites, which clogs the flow and causes sedimentation.
The intended result is that visitors would see open water flowing into the
river rather than fields of phragmites. The area is the head of a tidal
estuary, but is fresh, not saltwater.
The proposal is a Line Item Construction project in the
federal budget (direct funding to the National Park Service), which requires
NPS and presidential signatures. NPS will restore only the part of the river
within its boundaries, but the project could server as a model for downriver,
if successful. Anticipated schedule is to begin in September 2005 and complete
by summer 2007. Funding level is approximately $2.6 million. The project is
referred to as the “Turning Basin”
restoration because the site is where the boats historically turned
around. Three possible levels of
restoration are proposed:
A: Restore pier and bulkhead with no sediment
B: Remove sediment from north only.
C: Remove all sediment and eradicate phragmites
D: Remove sediment based on elevation from tidal
The Salem-Beverly Water Supply Board has conserved water by
the effective use of reservoirs for storage, supplied by the withdrawal of
water from the Ipswich River
during the winter when water levels are high, and stored for the summer month’s
use. Currently that same supply of water is greatly threatened by increasing
usage. Much of the increased usage is from the development in areas north of
Salem-Beverly. For example, Salem-Beverly sometimes sells water to Danvers
in times of shortage. Towns farther north grow and increase their well water
use, decreasing the groundwater levels and the flow of the Ipswich
and Salem are the largest users,
yet because most of the land in the two cities is outside of the Ipswich River
Watershed, the Salem-Beverly water supply after usage is returned to the sea
depriving groundwater supply replenishment. The Ipswich
River is one of the most endangered
rivers in the US.
The health of this river affects our entire region.
The same applies to Gloucester,
Manchester, and Rockport. Most
communities in the NCW have some local wells – often secondary wells. Surface
water protection and watershed aquifer protection are the issues for drinking
water protection, management, and planning.
C12. Contaminated stormwater issues (all subwatersheds)
emanating from street drainage systems along highways and local roads. Contaminated
stormwater is estimated to account for over 50% of the water quality problems
EPA has begun the process of addressing the problem of
stormwater contamination. Under the authority of Section 402(p) of the Clean
Water Act, small cities and towns located in urbanized areas will be required
receive a permit to discharge stormwater and to develop and implement a
stormwater management program. The permits will by administered as Phase II Stormwater
Compliance of the NPDES program. These drainage systems are referenced as
“municipal separate storm sewer systems” or MS4’s. Communities were slated to
submit their respective plans in March of 2003.
The problem of contaminated
stormwater emanating from street drainage systems along highways and local
roads requires the coordinated involvement of
municipal, state and federal authorities to achieve meaningful reductions in
pollution loading. A related issue is contaminated
urban sediments, particularly in the Salem Sound and Saugus
Lynn is under
Joint Federal/State Consent Judgment Consent Judgment #76-2184-G to eliminate
all CSOs and to address contaminated
stormwater (in conjunction with the wastewater issue, below).
Essex has entered into Consent
Judgment #96-2209B with the Commonwealth to address the discharge of pollutants
from the town's storm drainage facilities into Essex Coastal Waters. A source
of the pollutants has been identified as failing septic systems that are directly
or indirectly tied into the storm drainage system. The town has agreed to
implement a Core Area Water Pollution Abatement Program and submit a Wastewater
Management Plan in accordance with the terms of the Final Judgment.
A plan need to be developed and implemented to
provide technical assistance and funding assistance for the implementation of
municipal stormwater plans and to insure the consent judgments are completed in
a timely manner. Efforts should be prioritized within the four targeted
subwatersheds of the Saugus River,
Salem Sound, Gloucester Harbor,
and Smallpox Brook.
Develop and implement a plan to install
containment structures on all river crossings on state highways. The need was demonstrated when there was a
rollover of a gasoline truck in 1992 on 93N right at the Ipswich
River within yards of Reading’s
wells. It was a high-cost cleanup by Cumberland Farms and jeopardized Reading’s
entire water supply as well as the Ipswich
River communities down stream.
Encourage communities and watershed groups to
take advantage of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources
Conservation Service interest in working with communities to identify sources
of stormwater contamination, and evaluate remedial options. They can meet with
communities to determine goals and problems, conduct watershed site visits,
help them set priorities,
carry out demonstration projects, and help prepare applications for funding
through various grant programs.
The major sources of runoff are individual actions with
fertilizers and herbicides from lawns; and runoff of road salt, petroleum
products, and heavy metals from impervious surfaces. Sediment runoff during
rainstorm events affects fisheries heavily by filling in streambed interstices.
It is estimated that each acre of impervious surface results in 20,000 gallons
pf contaminated water.
Citizens are generally unaware of the connection of their
lawn maintenance on water quality in nearby lakes. A prime example is Lake
Quannapowitt, where the NCW video
documents that well-fertilized lawns lay 10 feet from the lakeshore. There are
easy-to-use solutions for fertilizers and herbicides, so the primary issue is
publicity about them. Establishing buffer zones along lakes in that situation
would also be effective.
Road salting is a major issue. It impacts both surface and
groundwater and alters habitat by changing chlorides and TSS. Lessons can be
learned from Canadian BMP for road salt use. The future of the watersheds and
habitats are linked to water quality. Road salt and impervious surface runoff
is generally a more expensive issue because it involves town road maintenance
rather than individual action.
One drinking water related example is the Lincoln Street
Well in Manchester. It is a public
water source and is a concern regarding road salt and runoff contamination. Its
headwaters are along Rt. 128, and the well itself is next to a school parking
lot and a golf course – many possible runoff sources!
Wastewater issues are specific to each community’s
wastewater system. Hence in this section we describe each system separately,
and then describe action items to address them collectively.
completed an extension of its sewer main up Rt. 1A to the New Hampshire State
Line. Property owners are in the process of completing ties into the system at
this time. Town has applied for permits to extend sewer line up to the Salisbury
is under Joint Federal/State Consent Judgment, #76-2184-G, to eliminate
all CSOs and to address contaminated
Rockport is currently under an Administrative
Order # 835, which restricts the number of new connections to the system except
in the case of written authorization by the Board of Health due to ground water
compliance problem with outfall at Long Beach.
is under a Joint Federal/State Consent Decree to manage all of its on-site
systems. This resulted in the city installing sewers in West Gloucester
and the development and adoption of the Daylor Plan to identify areas for
further sewering. The city is also focusing on eliminating CSOs in the Gloucester
Harbor. The city has aggressively
tackled the on-site problems, implemented a Wastewater Management Plan, and
received funding through the Commonwealth's State Revolving Fund (SRF). The
Gloucester Master Plan includes pricing of water so that business use is
appropriate, and impact fees for new development.
Essex has entered into a
Consent Judgment, #96-2209B, with the Commonwealth to address the discharge of
pollutants from the town's storm drainage facilities into Essex Coastal Waters.
A source of the pollutants has been identified as failing septic systems that
are directly or indirectly tied into the storm drainage system. The town has
agreed to implement a Core Area Water Pollution Abatement Program and submit a
Wastewater Management Plan in accordance with the terms of the Final Judgment.
is under an Administrative Consent Order #844, which restricts the number of
new connections into the system except by written authorization by the Board of
Health and requires the town to conduct I&I removal operations and update
the existing POTW. The Manchester POTW was upgraded from primary to a full
secondary facility as of August 1998 per the requirements of the Administrative
Consent Order AP-BO-92-101.
South Essex Sewage District: the Beverly-Salem
water treatment plant as of June 2004 removes its sedimentation filtration
stream to SESD and maintains a lagoon for filter backwash, from which the
solids are freeze dried and removed to landfill.
Develop and implement a plan to provide
technical and financial support to municipalities to improve compliance with
all wastewater regulations, permits, consent orders, etc.
Develop and implement a plan to provide
technical support to help insure that all POTWs required to have a Local Limits
program have one with a robust set of limits that address all water quality
issues in their receiving waters and an enforcement program that insures
compliance with all applicable limits.
The MBTA has proposed extending the Blue Line through Rumney
Marsh to Lynn. No destruction is
allowed of the ACEC. The entire marsh is a flood-prone area. Extending the Blue
Line, say critics, has minimal transportation benefit because Lynn
is already served by rail (commuter train to North Station – both the Rockport
Line and the Newburyport Line). While recognizing the need for mass transit in
general, critics also note that the MBTA parking garage in Lynn’s
Central Square is usually
empty despite being free of charge.
farmland represents 8% of the landmass in the County (other counties in the
watershed have lesser amounts of farmland, but the concepts are still
applicable). There are 25,500 acres of land involved in agricultural production
of which 12,500 acres are classified as prime land. Unfortunately
farmland is under stress because average sales were $23,055 a year and 51%
report a loss. The average age of farmers is now over 55 and only 3% are less
than 35. Without support, farms will disappear and with them, access to fresh
food, wildlife habitats, and open space.
Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR)
program (see www.mass.gov/agr/landuse/APR/)
Fund educational program / study of how farms
benefit land use
Find new opportunities for sustainable farm
Educate public on CSAs (Community Supported
Agriculture) and location of farm markets
Encourage “Buy Local” programs (see
Dialogue with businesses and environmental
Visioning conference for protection of
Support website for local food / Buy Local
Education and booths at festivals and fairs