2. ISSUES AND STRATEGIES

In this section we outline the issues and strategies for each of the six goals. The purpose is to introduce the issues and strategies, to provide context for the prioritizations in Section 3. More details on the issues appear in Appendix C, Issues Background. The previous round of goals appears in Appendix D. Corresponding previous accomplishments appear in Appendix E.

2A. Open Space: Sustainable Development

Goal 1: Foster Sustainable Development (people-oriented)

Issues: The Grow Smart North Shore report serves as the NCW comprehensive Open Space plan. It is available on the NCW website, www.NorthCoastal.net .

The more general goal of sustainable development raises numerous transportation-related issues. The Blue Line (MBTA) is proposing to expand through Rumney Marsh to Lynn; and a reconstruction project of Rt. 1 is planned. Both construction projects will potentially impact the ACEC area and other parts of Rumney Marsh.

Strategies Several years ago the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and its North Shore Task Force (NSTF) sponsored a Harvard School of Design project to investigate the potential to create a metropolitan open space system for the Greater Boston Metropolitan region and adjoining areas of Eastern Massachusetts. The final report entitled Mass Bays Common proposed a network of large protected natural resource systems. As a natural progression from this larger effort, the NSTF commissioned a similar effort for the 15 communities in the North Shore area. The report entitled Grow Smart North Shore proposes:

         a network of interconnected existing preservation areas, new preservation areas, riparian corridors setbacks and a harbor walk as the means to consider the needs and character of the regions resources and people;

         address the needs of the regional ecology; address the issues of water quality and quantity; address the rich cultural heritage of the region; and

         create a realistic, regional open space reserve on the North Shore and Cape Ann.

Several NCW team members were active in the formulation of this project and the subsequent presentations to local officials and the public. It was the consensus of the team that Grow Smart North Shore could effectively serve as the NCW comprehensive Open Space plan. Planning for growth and community preservation has been an active component of the Watershed Teams activities.

Open Space Residential Design (OSRD) is a rezoning method intended to implement greater open space within the same population density. Numerous documents on OSRD methods, bylaw changes, and zoning concepts are included on the website, under the heading of Conservation Subdivision Design.

Some NCW team members were active in programs to support local agriculture on the North Shore and Cape Ann, that protects farmland as wildlife habitat, as open space, and as cultural and historic resources.

2B. Habitat Conservation

Goal 2: Conserve habitat and wildlife (nature-oriented)

Issues The long history of development and alteration within the watershed has placed much of the natural resources at risk. The Team has identified as a priority the restoration of degraded wetlands and the reopening of productive shellfish resources. Estimates compiled for the EOEA 2002 Report The State of Our Environment A Special Report on Community Preservation and the Future of our Commonwealth indicate that the Commonwealth will have about 9.75 million people at buildout, or about 3.5 million more than today. Massachusetts is zoned for an additional 2.4 billion square feet of commercial and industrial growth at buildout. This is the equivalent of about 17,000 Wal-Marts.

The primary concern is that the ongoing land fragmentation, resulting from continuing economic development, more specifically housing growth, will seriously endanger the biodiversity within the Commonwealth and the North Coastal Watersheds. The Natural Heritage Program of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife examined the entire landmass of the Commonwealth, reviewed all existing data on the native species that live in Massachusetts, and produced a map that identifies those areas that need to be preserved and managed. The BioMap[6] places some 40 natural communities within the NCW at risk.

Strategies The extensive alteration of the waterbodies and landscapes within the watershed often precludes the ideal application of land acquisition and establishment of protected conservation easements. Often these sensitive habitats require the imposition of remedial measures to restore some of their biological and ecological functions to better reflect a more natural condition.

         The NCW team is generally supportive of the concept of The Natural Flow Regime.[7] This approach recognizes the importance of natural streamflow variability in maintaining healthy aquatic ecosystems.

         Integrate the concept of biodiversity into the MWI program elements (which are still supported by EOEA).

         Promote a thorough review and study in and around both surface and groundwater water supplies to insure that drawdowns needed for water supply protection cannot be so great that they wipe out the wetlands and in-stream flows to maintain biodiversity.

         The NCW team will support on-going projects and foster new projects in the watershed targeted to restoring or remediating degraded streams, wetlands, reopening productive shellfish beds and promoting conservation of eelgrass beds.

         In the past, support has largely been in the form of site assessment and the writing of endorsement letters to the various funding sources. However, future projects do not preclude involvement in active restoration or remediation projects.

2C. Water Quality Improvement

Goal 3: Improve water quality and human health issues

Issues: The waters within the North Coastal Watershed generally do not support their designated uses. Water quality problems are pervasive throughout the watershed often the result of cumulative impacts from point and nonpoint sources. The most likely causes are exceedances of standards for bacterial contamination excessive nutrients/low dissolved oxygen, invasive species and priority pollutants. A complete list of NCW impaired waters appears in Appendix F (updated as of 2002, with older lists for reference).

Sections of the North Coastal watershed have extensive areas of impervious surfaces created by dense housing developments, roads and commercial parking areas. The runoff from these areas alters the water quality and biological integrity of areas once noted for anadromous fish runs, swimming and shellfishing. In the more urbanized areas of the NCW, particularly in the Salem Sound and Saugus River subwatersheds, contaminated urban sediments is also an issue.

Thermal discharges from two major NPDES permittees located on opposite shores of the Saugus River Estuary may adversely impact fish migration as well as egg and larval development. A total of 25 waterbodies both fresh and marine are listed on as impaired waters (DEP 1996 303d list) (See Appendix D).

The North Coastal Watershed has five municipal sewage treatment facilities and several large industries, all of which are classified as major dischargers under the NPDES permitting program. Record keeping and updates on the actual number and status of minor NPDES permits needs to be updated. DEP/DWPC/NERO was responsible for overseeing a number of Administrative Consent Orders filed against municipalities and business for noncompliance with both State and Federal Water Quality Laws and Regulations. Changes in program management and personnel had lead to a lack of up to date oversight.

Human health issues relate not only to water quality but to air quality as well. Several community members cited air emissions as a potential cause of illness. While this report focuses on water-related issues, the comment section of the website and the associated video include discussions of other health issues.

Hence the term health in this category means both human health and healthy aquatic systems. That includes anadromous fish issues, for example. This category should be interpreted broadly, to include aesthetics as well.

Strategies: Develop a plan and financing to supplement the monitoring efforts of DEP/WSM, DMF, SSCW and SRWC by engaging additional partners, providing communication linkages between the respective programs and expanding the list of water quality parameters.

         Provide direct technical assistance for DEP/DWPC/NERO compliance activities by the collection of water quality samples, biological assessments and flow measurements.

         Promote the coordination and pooling of all federal, state and NGO efforts and tailor some of the sampling. This would enhance the individual group efforts towards meeting their targeted goals and provide a more comprehensive assessment of conditions within these targeted areas.

         Find resources to assist DEP and EPA in the review and comment of compliance reports, daily reporting requirements, and previous studies, update files and follow up on previous permit recommendations and requirements to issue protective NPDES permits for the nine major NPDES permittees.

         NPDES permits should contain specific limits and monitoring requirements for pollutants that impair water quality. The limits should be set so that the receiving water meets applicable water quality standards.

         NPDES permits should conform to EPA's guidance document: Watershed-Based - National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System - (NPDES) Permitting Implementation Guidance - August 2003 - Draft

         Develop and implement a plan to provide subwatersheds with comprehensive condition assessments and plans to maintain or improve the water quality and quantity.

         EOEA should issue its Revised Water Policy as soon as possible.

         The EPAs TMDL loading limits, while sometimes criticized as onerous, do provide specific numeric goals for demonstrating water quality improvement. The Watershed Team in the past identified four subwatersheds in which to target efforts and resources they were selected on the basis of being dispersed across the watershed; because they had common problems, and because they had active group(s) of communities in support; and because progress and improvements are readily demonstrated.

2D. Water Quantity Management

Goal 4: Better water management / flood control

Issues The NCW does not have a unified water supply or well field located within the watershed. A number of communities have access water rights to the Ipswich River. Some communities can also access water from Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and from privately owned wells. The numbers and locations of private wells and amounts withdrawn are not well documented. Droughts have plagued the region in the past.

The high population density places demand on the water supply resources in the drainage basin, even though several municipalities actually derive their water supply from surface or groundwater sources outside of the North Coastal Watershed. Projected water demand at buildout for municipalities will exceed presently permitted supply by 12,600,000 gallons per day (gpd). Data compiled from (EOEA 2002 The State of Our Environment A Special Report on Community Preservation and the Future of our Commonwealth).

An area of significant concern is the Saugus River, a system that is affected by low flow conditions caused in part by registered and permitted water withdrawals by the Lynn Water and Sewer Commission. Water is diverted from the Saugus River mainstem into Hawks Pond, part of the LWSC Water Supply Reservoir system. Permitted and registered withdrawals of 10.21 MGD by the City of Lynn and a permitted withdrawal of 0.28 MGD by the Colonial Golf Course in Lynnfield contribute to a section of the Saugus River being dry (Cashins 1997).

The town of Rockport is seeking to expand its water supply by the establishment of a new reservoir and the diversion of three intermittent streams.

Salisbury officials are concerned that large scale withdrawls by neighboring Seabrook NH maybe impacting Salisbury wellfields

Strategies:

         DEP/Drinking Water Supply personnel need to update files and permits issued to all registered water users.

         Develop and implement a plan to protect watershed lands around water supplies. But the drawdown needed for water supply protection cannot be so great that they wipe out the wetlands and in-stream flows that maintain the Commonwealth's biodiversity. Watershed plans must employ a better balance between public water supply demands and designated uses such as Aquatic Life.

         Water suppliers need a program to help them in securing funds for Watershed Protection.

         Encourage public water suppliers and DEP regulators to implement water conservation measures such as leak detection installation and calibration of water meters. While providing a valuable resource to the communities at great cost savings, water conservation measures also help communities meet one of the general water conservation practices under their Water Management Act permits.

         Develop and implement a flow monitoring program to provide accurate and reliable data on flows in most of the subbasins. Subwatershed assessments and plans are needed to provide the basis for protecting these resources.

         Suggest inclusion of flow monitoring as a standard parameter during all water quality assessments.

2E. Recreation as Economic Resource

Goal 5: Foster recreational use of natural resources and economic growth related to recreation.

Issues: The team had not previously identified the element of recreation as a specific priority issue to be addressed by the team. Often it is embedded or included in open space planning and habitat issues. It is currently included because of the large number of people who participate in water-based recreation in the NCW area and because of the large number of public comments that were recreation-related.

In particular, the NCW includes several of the Boston areas most popular beaches (Revere Beach, Singing Beach in Manchester, Cranes Beach in Ipswich, Salisbury Beach, etc.) In terms of fresh water, the NCW contains several large lakes (Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield, Chebacco Lake in Essex) which are potentially available for recreation.

Strategies. Because of the many popular beaches in the NCW, the Watershed Team includes economic issues in this section as well. High-use beaches provide financial resources for local communities, but in addition, the recreational benefit accrues to local residents directly. More usable beaches and waterways provide greater recreational benefit and many of the best recreational resources in NCW are degraded. Their improvement would have an immediate economic benefit and could be the basis of several economic studies. For example, cleaning Lynns coastal waters sufficiently to reopen the shellfish beds would provide a local recreational activity (clamming) which was the tradition for decades. Some past activities at the local level in this area include:

         In 1999, the Watershed Team participated in a series of workshops and presentations with DCR (DEM) and Salem State College on a study of Chebacco Lake.

         Beginning in 1999, the Friends of Lake Quannapowitt has held a watershed awareness program with an outdoor classroom for all children that graduate the public school system.

         In 2003, the Chebacco Lake Association wrote a series of articles in the Hamilton-Wenham Chronicle to publicize the issues about the lake. The lake has high mercury levels and problems with noxious plants including nonnative plants (fanwort).

         While the two goals of clean beaches suitable for swimming and shellfishing is admirable, the two activities are not compatible in the same time period. Water quality monitoring and publicizing the results as well as sanitary surveys by MDMF can make this a reality.

2F. Capacity Building & Outreach

Goal 6: Local capacity building, integration between groups, outreach, and education

Issues: The North Coastal Watershed enjoys an active citizenry often organized at the local level and generally dealing with specific or regional environmental issues. It was discovered that there is no single environmental issue affecting all of the citizenryrather, the issues and concerns are localized. Virtually all of the environmental agencies under EOEA have a significant presence in the watershed. Communication between the various levels of government, sister agencies and local community partners is inconsistent. The Department of Environmental Protection through its regulatory authorities plays a central role in protecting and improving environmental conditions for a host of issues, such as water pollution control, wetlands protection, water supply, solid waste management, and hazardous waste management. Particularly successful at interacting at the grassroots level were, DFG (DFWELE) through their Stream Team Program and CZM/NS which provides proactive leadership and assistance in growth management, outreach programs and grants management.

Three Local Governance Committees (LGCs) Salem Sound Coastwatch (SSCW), Eight Towns and the Bay (8T&B), and Metropolitan Boston Local Governance North Shore were organized under the Massachusetts Bay National Estuarine Program during the 1980s and 1990s. The LGCs missions differ in response to the directives of their core constituency. The Saugus River Watershed Council (SRWC) founded in 1991 and Save Waters in Massachusetts (SWIM) have established regional constituencies. The Essex County Buy Local program promotes local agriculture and education about buying locally. In addition there are many other smaller constituent groups. Limitations in technical expertise, personnel, or inconsistent funding hamper their ability to address complex problems. The diverse nature of the watershed sometimes works against them, since they often must compete for funds or resources.

Strategies: Identify the communities working in the North Coastal Watersheds. Channel outreach and education efforts through the local governance organizations and environmental groups, strive to develop a pattern of reciprocal communications. Model outreach efforts employed by DFG (DFWELE), Massachusetts Audubon Society and CZM/NS to fit NCW needs. Maximize the exchange of information between team members and collaborative through electronic mail systems. As contacts are established with local officials invite them to join the team. Prioritize problems within the sub-regions, map out strategies to effect positive change, solve problems at the sub-watershed level and make the North Coastal Team relevant to the needs of all constituencies.

Rather than focusing on establishing a NCW team identity, a choice was made to facilitate existing programs wherever possible and provide additional resources to supplement or augment existing community efforts:

         Support and encourage growth of local constituencies.

         Keep all groups apprised of appropriate grants and other funding.

         Encourage the development of working partnerships between team members.

         Provide letters of support for funding opportunities consistent with the watershed teams objectives.

Where possible, the watershed team will support local activities such as river clean-ups. In the opinion of the previous Watershed Team Leader[8], this was the single most effective outreach tool employed, when the watershed team was able to link this with evidence of anadromous fish spawning. This was the case in the North River cleanup, and with wildlife sightings in and around Town Line Brook which resulted in validation of the volunteers efforts and incentives for doing more.

The Watershed Team should consider itself the central information source for coordinating activities between local watershed and community groups. The NCW contains many such groups that would benefit from coordination, particularly information-sharing and funding source information.

As a result of this project, the NCW Watershed Team will produce a video about the watershed. It will be appropriate for periodic broadcasting on local cable stations, at high school environment classes. The intent is to distribute the video to libraries and high schools as a means of outreach.

Public Input Process

The public input detailed in Section 3, while topical and of interest to the public, does not necessarily reflect the views of the Watershed Team. In general, the public is much more concerned with health issues and recreational issues. Similarly, city and town officials are generally most concerned with local flooding and water flow issues. Watershed groups are generally most concerned with water quality issues and ecological issues.

Our recommendations attempt to reconcile the needs of all three groups. The most likely users of the recommendations, watershed groups, can interpret the recommendations about topics primarily of interest to the public as a means to improve public outreach.





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