Appendix J. Designated Uses

 

The Massachusetts Surface Water Quality Standards designate the most sensitive uses for which the surface waters of the Commonwealth shall be enhanced, maintained and protected. Each of these uses is briefly described below (DEP 1996):

 

AQUATIC LIFE - suitable habitat for sustaining a native, naturally diverse, community of aquatic flora and fauna. Three subclasses of aquatic life are also designated in the standards for freshwater bodies; Cold Water Fishery - capable of sustaining a year-round population of cold water aquatic life such as trout, Warm Water Fishery - waters which are not capable of sustaining a year-round population of cold water aquatic life, and Marine Fishery - suitable for sustaining marine flora and fauna.

 

FISH CONSUMPTION - pollutants shall not result in unacceptable concentrations in edible portions of marketable fish or shellfish or for the recreational use of fish, shellfish, other aquatic life or wildlife for human consumption.

 

PRIMARY CONTACT RECREATION - suitable for any recreation or other water use in which there is prolonged and intimate contact with the water with a significant risk of ingestion of water. These include, but are not limited to, wading, swimming, diving, surfing and water skiing.

 

SECONDARY CONTACT RECREATION - suitable for any recreation or other water use in which contact with the water is either incidental or accidental. These include, but are not limited to, fishing, boating and limited contact incident to shoreline activities.

 

DRINKING WATER - used to denote those waters used as a source of public drinking water. They may be subject to more stringent regulation in accordance with the Massachusetts Drinking Water Regulations (310 CMR 22.00). These waters are designated for protection as Outstanding Resource Waters under 314 CMR 4.04(3).

 

AGRICULTURAL AND INDUSTRIAL - suitable for irrigation or other agricultural process water and for compatible industrial cooling and process water.

 

SHELLFISH HARVESTING (in SA and SB segments) – Class SA waters in approved areas (Open Shellfish Areas) shellfish harvested without depuration shall be suitable for consumption; Class SB waters in approved areas (Restricted Shellfish Areas) shellfish harvested with depuration shall be suitable for consumption.

 

AESTHETICS - all surface waters shall be free from pollutants in concentrations or combinations that settle to form objectionable deposits; float as debris, scum or other matter to form nuisances; produce objectionable odor, color, taste or turbidity; or produce undesirable or nuisance species of aquatic life.

 

 

Other restrictions, which denote specific subcategories of use assigned to the segment that, may affect the application of criteria or specific antidegradation provision of 314 CMR 4.00 which are specified in segments of the North Coastal Watersheds include:

 

Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) – These waters are identified as impacted by the discharge of combined sewer overflows in the classification tables in 314 CMR 4.06(3). The permitting authority without a variance or partial use designation may allow overflow events where the provisions 314 CMR 4.06(1)(d)10 are met. The waterbody may be subject to short-term impairment of swimming or other recreational uses, but support these uses through most of their annual period of use; and the aquatic life community may suffer some adverse impact yet is still generally viable).

The guidance used to assess each designated use follows.

J1. AQUATIC LIFE USE

This use is suitable for sustaining a native, naturally diverse, community of aquatic flora and fauna. The results of biological (and habitat), toxicological, and chemical data are integrated to assess this use. The nature, frequency, and precision of the DEP’s data collection techniques dictate that a weight of evidence be used to make the assessment, with biosurvey results used as the final arbiter of borderline cases. Excursions from criteria due to natural conditions are not considered impairment of use. The following chart provides an overview of the guidance used to assess the status (support, partial support, non support) of the Aquatic Life Use:

 

Variable

(# indicates reference)

Support—Data available clearly indicates support. Minor excursions from chemical criteria (Table 3) may be tolerated if the biosurvey results demonstrate support.

Partial Support – Uncertainty about support in the chemical or toxicity testing data, or there is some minor modification of the biological community. Excursions not frequent or prolonged.

Non Support – There are frequent or severe violations of chemical criteria, presence of acute toxicity, or a moderate or severe modification of the biological community.

BIOLOGY

Rapid Bioassessment Protocol (RBP) II or III (4)

Non-Impaired

Slightly Impaired

Moderately or Severely Impaired

Fish Community (4)

BPJ*

BPJ*

BPJ*

Habitat and Flow (4)

BPJ*

BPJ*

Dry Streambed due to artificial regulation or channel alteration

Macrophytes (4)

No non-native plant species present, BPJ

Non-native plant species present but not dominant, BPJ*

Non-native plant species dominant, BPJ*

Plankton/

Periphyton (4)

No algal blooms

Occasional algal blooms

Persistent algal blooms

TOXICITY TESTS

Water Column (4)

>75% survival either 48 hr or 7-day exposure

>50 - <75% survival either 48 hr or 7-day exposure

<50% survival either 48 hr or 7-day exposure

Effluent (4)

Meets permit limits

(NOTE: if limit is not met, the stream is listed as threatened for 1.0 river mile downstream from the discharge.)

Sediment (4)

>75% survival

>50 - <75% survival

<50% survival

CHEMISTRY- WATER

DO (3, 6)

Criteria (Table 3)

Criteria exceeded in 11-25% of measurements.

Criteria exceeded >25% of measurements.

pH (3, 6)

Criteria (Table 3)

Criteria exceeded in 11-25% of measurements.

Criteria exceeded >25% of measurements.

Temperature (3, 6) ***

Criteria (Table 3), ***

Criteria exceeded in 11-25% of measurements.

Criteria exceeded >25% of measurements.

Turbidity (4)

D 5 NTU due to a discharge

BPJ*

BPJ *

Suspended Solids (4)

25 mg/L max., D10 mg/L due to a discharge

BPJ*

BPJ*

Nutrients (3)

 Phosphate-P (4)

Table 3, (Site-Specific Criteria; Maintain Balanced Biocommunity, no pH/DO violations)

BPJ*

BPJ*

Toxic Pollutants (3, 6)

Ammonia-N (3, 4)

Chlorine (3, 6)

Criteria (Table 3)

 0.254 mg/L**** NH3-N

 0.011 mg/L TRC

Criterion is exceeded in < 10% of samples.

Criterion is exceed in > 10% of samples.

CHEMISTRY – SEDIMENT

Toxic Pollutants (5)

< L-EL*****

One pollutant between L-EL and S-EL

One pollutant ³ S-EL

Nutrients (5)

< L-EL

between L-EL and S-EL

³ S-EL

Metal Normalization to Al or Fe (4)

Enrichment Ratio < 1

Enrichment Ratio >1 but <10

Enrichment Ratio >10

CHEMISTRY- EFFLUENT

Compliance with permit limits (4)

In-compliance with all limits

NOTE: If the facility is not in compliance with their permit limits, the information is used to threaten one river mile downstream from the discharge.

CHEMISTRY-TISSUE

PCBs – whole fish (1)

<500 mg/Kg wet weight

BPJ*

BPJ*

DDT (2)

<14.0 mg/Kg wet weight

BPJ*

BPJ*

PCBs in aquatic tissue (2)

<0.79 ng TEQ/Kg wet weight

BPJ*

BPJ*

*BPJ = Best Professional Judgment, ***maximum daily mean temp. in a month (minimum of 6 measurements evenly distributed over 24-hours) <criterion, ****Ammonia levels for pH of 9.0, actual “criterion” varies with pH and is evaluated case-by-case, *****L-EL = Low Effect Level and S-EL = Severe Effect Level

J2. FISH CONSUMPTION USE

Pollutants shall not result in unacceptable concentrations in edible portions of marketable fish or shellfish or for the recreational use of fish, shellfish, other aquatic life or wildlife for human consumption. This assessment is made using the most recent list of Fish Consumption Advisories issued by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Department of Public Health (MA DPH), Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment Fish Consumption Advisory List. Following is an overview of the guidance used to assess the status (support, partial support, non-support) of the fish consumption use.

 

Variable

(# indicates reference)

Support —No restrictions or bans in effect

Partial Support – A “restricted consumption” fish advisory is in effect for the general population or a sub-population that could be at potentially greater risk (e.g., pregnant women, and children

Non Support – A “no consumption” advisory or ban in effect for the general population or a sub-population for one or more fish species; or there is a commercial fishing ban in effect

MA DPH Fish Consumption Advisory List (8)

Not applicable, precluded by statewide advisory (Hg)

Not applicable

Waterbody on MA DPH Fish Consumption Advisory List

* NOTE: In 1994, MA DPH issued a statewide Interim Freshwater Fish Consumption Advisory for mercury. This precautionary measure was aimed at pregnant women only; the general public was not considered to be at risk from fish consumption. The advisory encompasses all freshwaters in Massachusetts therefore the Fish Consumption Use will no longer be assessed as support.

 

J3. DRINKING WATER USE

Drinking Water Use denotes those waters used as a source of public drinking water. These waters may be subject to more stringent regulation in accordance with the Massachusetts Drinking Water Regulations (310 CMR 22.00). They are designated for protection as Outstanding Resource Waters in 314 CMR 4.04(3). DEP’s Drinking Water Program (DWP) maintains current drinking water supply data for active public water supplies. When a source has been placed on “emergency or backup” status no testing is required. The Drinking Water Use is not assessed in this report however, EPA guidance is provided below.

 

Variable

(# indicates reference)

Support-- No closures or advisories (no contaminants with confirmed exceedances of MCLs, conventional treatment is adequate to maintain the supply).

Partial Support – Is one or more advisories or more than conventional treatment is required

Non Support – One or more contamination-based closures of the water supply

Drinking Water Program (DWP) Evaluation

Reported by DWP

Reported by DWP

Reported by DWP

J4. SHELLFISHING USE

This use is assessed using information from the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement’s Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF). The information is in the form of various classifications of shellfish closures and restrictions. Shellfish areas under management orders are not assessed.

 

Variable

(# indicates reference)

Support –

SA Waters—open for shellfish harvesting without depuration (Open areas)

SB Waters—open for shellfish harvesting with depuration (Open, conditionally approved, restricted areas)

Partial Support –

SA Waters—Seasonally closed, seasonally open, conditionally approved, conditionally restricted

SB Waters—Seasonally closed, seasonally open, conditionally restricted areas

Non Support –

SA Waters—Prohibited, areas

SB Waters— Prohibited, areas

Division of Marine Fisheries Shellfish Project Classification Area Information (11)

Reported by DMF

Reported by DMF

Reported by DMF

J5. PRIMARY CONTACT RECREATIONAL USE

This use is suitable for any recreational or other water use in which there is prolonged and intimate contact with the water with a significant risk of ingestion of water (1 April to 15 October). These include, but are not limited to, wading, swimming, diving, surfing and water skiing. The chart below provides an overview of the guidance used to assess the status (support, partial support, non-support) of the primary contact use.

 

Variable

(# indicates reference)

Support-- Criteria are met, no aesthetic conditions that preclude the use

Partial Support –Criteria exceeded intermittently (neither frequent nor prolonged), marginal aesthetic violations

Non Support –Frequent or prolonged violations of criteria, formal bathing area closures, or severe aesthetic conditions that preclude the use

Fecal Coliform Bacteria (3, 9) *

Criteria met OR

Dry Weather Guidance

<5 samples--<400/100 ml maximum

Wet Weather Guidance

Dry weather samples meet and wet samples <2000/100 ml

Guidance exceeded in 11-25% of the samples OR

Wet Weather

Dry weather samples meet and wet samples >2000/100 ml

 

Guidance exceeded in > 25% of the samples

pH (3, 6)

Criteria exceeded in <10 % of the measurements

Criteria exceeded in 11-25% of the measurements

Criteria exceeded in >25% of the measurements

Temperature (3)

Criteria met

Criteria exceeded 11-25% of the time

Criteria exceeded 25% of the time

Color and Turbidity (3, 6)

D 5 NTU (due to a discharge) exceeded in <10 % of the measurements

Guidance exceeded in 11-25% of the measurements

Guidance exceeded in >25% of the measurements

Secchi disk depth (10) **

Lakes - >1.2 meters ( > 4’)

Infrequent excursions from the guidance

Frequent and/or prolonged excursions from the guidance

Oil & Grease (3)

Criteria met

Criteria exceeded 11-25% of the time

Criteria exceeded >25% of the time

Aesthetics (3)

 Biocommunity (4)**

No nuisance organisms that render the water aesthetically objectionable or unusable;

Lakes – cover of macrophytes < 50% of lake area at maximum extent of growth.

Lakes – cover of macrophytes 50-75% of lake area at their maximum extent of growth.

Lakes – cover of macrophytes >75% of lake area at their maximum extent of growth.

Note: Excursions from criteria due to natural conditions are not considered impairment of use. The Primary Contact Use support status cannot be rated higher then Secondary Contact. * Fecal Coliform Bacteria interpretations require additional information in order to apply this use assessment guidance. Bacteria data results (fecal coliform) are interpreted according to whether they represent dry weather or wet weather (stormwater runoff) conditions. Accordingly it is important to interpret the amount of precipitation received in the subject region immediately prior to sampling and streamflow conditions. ** Lakes exhibiting impairment of the primary contact recreation use (swimmable) because of macrophyte cover and/or transparency (Secchi disk depth) are assessed as either partial or on support. If no fecal coliform bacteria data are available and the lake (entirely or in part) met the transparency (Secchi disk depth) and aesthetics guidance this use is not assessed.

J6. SECONDARY CONTACT RECREATIONAL USE

This use is suitable for any recreation or other water use in which contact with the water is either incidental or accidental. These include, but are not limited to, fishing, boating and limited contact incident to shoreline activities. Following is an overview of the guidance used to assess the status (support, partial support, non-support) of the secondary contact use.

 

Variable

(# indicates reference)

Support-- Criteria are met, no aesthetic conditions that preclude the use

Partial Support –Criteria exceeded intermittently (neither frequent nor prolonged), marginal aesthetic violations

Non Support –Frequent or prolonged violations of criteria, or severe aesthetic conditions that preclude the use

Fecal Coliform Bacteria (4) *

Dry Weather Guidance

<5 samples--<2000/100 ml maximum

>5 samples--<1000/100 ml geometric mean

< 10% samples >2000/100 ml

Wet Weather Guidance

Dry weather samples meet and wet samples <4000/100 ml

Wet Weather Guidance

Dry weather samples meet and wet samples >4000/100 ml

 

Criteria exceeded in dry weather

Oil & Grease (3)

Criteria met

Criteria exceeded 11-25% of the time

Criteria exceeded >25% of the time

Aesthetics (3)

Biocommunity (4) **

No nuisance organisms that render the water aesthetically objectionable or unusable; Lakes – cover of macrophytes < 50% of lake area at their maximum extent of growth.

Macrophyte cover is between 50 – 75%

Macrophyte cover exceeds 75% of the lake area.

Note: Excursions from criteria due to natural conditions are not considered impairment of use. The Secondary Contact Use support status cannot be higher then the Aesthetics Use status. * Fecal Coliform Bacteria interpretations require additional information in order to apply this use assessment guidance. Bacteria data results (fecal coliform) are interpreted according to whether they represent dry weather or wet weather (stormwater runoff) conditions. Accordingly it is important to interpret the amount of precipitation received in the study region immediately prior to sampling and streamflow conditions. ** In lakes if no fecal coliform data are available, macrophyte cover is the only criterion used to assess the secondary contact recreational use.

For the Primary and Secondary Contact Recreational uses the following steps are taken to interpret the fecal coliform bacteria results:

Identify the range of fecal coliform bacteria results,

Calculate the geometric mean (monthly, seasonally, or on dataset), (Note: the geometric mean is only calculated on datasets with >5 samples collected in a 30-day period.)

Calculate the % of sample results exceeding 400 cfu/100 mL,

Determine if the samples were collected during wet or dry weather conditions (review precipitation and streamflow data),

Dry weather can be defined as: No/trace antecedent (to the sampling event) precipitation that causes more than a slight increase in stream flow.

Wet weather can be defined as: Precipitation antecedent to the sampling event that results in a marked increase in stream flow.

Apply the following to interpret dry weather data:

<10% of the samples exceed criteria (step 2 and 3, above) assessed as Support,

11-25% of the samples exceed criteria (step 2 and 3, above) assessed as Partial Support,

>25% of the samples exceed criteria (step 2 and 3, above) assessed as Non Support.

J7. AESTHETICS USE

All surface waters shall be free from pollutants in concentrations or combinations that settle to form objectionable deposits; float as debris, scum or other matter to form nuisances; produce objectionable odor, color, taste or turbidity; or produce undesirable or nuisance species of aquatic life. The aesthetic use is closely tied to the public health aspects of the recreational uses (swimming and boating). Below is an overview of the guidance used to assess the status (support, partial support, non-support) of the aesthetics use.

 

Variable

(# indicates reference)

Support— 1.No objectionable bottom deposits, floating debris, scum, or nuisances; 2. objectionable odor, color, taste or turbidity, or nuisance aquatic life

Partial Support – Objectionable conditions neither frequent nor prolonged

Non Support – Objectionable conditions frequent and/or prolonged

Aesthetics (3)*

 Visual observation (4)

Criteria met

BPJ (spatial and temporal extent of degradation)

BPJ (extent of spatial and temporal degradation

Note: Excursions from criteria due to natural conditions are not considered impairment of use.

For lakes, the aesthetic use category is generally assessed at the same level of impairment as the more severely impaired recreational use category (primary or secondary contact).

 





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