Press Release from State Sen. Mark Montigny
On December 8, 2023, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection closed a public comment period for a draft plan to limit the amount of nitrogen pollution entering New Bedford harbor. The planning document, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load for Total Nitrogen or TMDL, is mandated by the federal Clean Water Act. The document sets forth a pollution reduction goal or “pollution budget” to help ensure waterways remain healthy. An approved TMDL does not impose any burden on local municipalities or residents.
Recently, Senator Montigny met with Acushnet Select Board Member David Wojnar and Buzzards Bay Coalition President Mark Rasmussen to discuss the TMDL draft and assurances that this process is not a mandate to upgrade residential septic systems. The TMDL process is an entirely different activity than the proposed Title 5 regulations issued by MassDEP in Fall 2023. Those proposed regulations sought to require homeowners to upgrade their septic systems with enhanced nitrogen reducing technology at an immense expense upwards of $30,000. The draft regulations generated significant backlash across the Southcoast region, and Senator Montigny successfully lobbied the Healey Administration alongside Representative Chris Markey to cut the Greater New Bedford area out of the final regulations.
“The health and vitality of our harbor must be protected from pollution, including nitrogen,” said Senator Montigny. “However, this is not a repeat of the Fall of 2023 where homeowners would have been forced into a costly mandate. Nonetheless, I will aggressively oppose any attempt to force my constituents into any such expense and need to emphasize that this TMDL is not that.”
The draft TMDL under review by MassDEP identifies several possible solutions to achieve nitrogen reduction, including (1) modifications to the Fairhaven treatment plant; (2) long-term control of CSO discharges; (3) additional sewering within the watersheds; (4) control and treatment of stormwater; and (5) fertilizer use reduction.
“The good news is that the Town of Fairhaven is actively upgrading its wastewater treatment facility, which accounts for almost half of the controllable nitrogen load into the harbor,” said Montigny. “Once this project is complete, nitrogen levels should drastically decrease. I greatly appreciate the outstanding advocacy by Acushnet Selectman Dave Wojnar and will continue working alongside town officials, Representative Schmid, and the Buzzards Bay Coalition to ensure that MassDEP reevaluates nitrogen reduction strategies after the Fairhaven project is complete. Residential septic upgrades in Acushnet, especially further north, would accomplish little for nitrogen reduction and any such proposal would be a complete nonstarter.”
Final approval of the draft TMDL is expected later this year.
Click here to download the 1/11/24 issue: 01-11-24 Snow
Support local journalism, donate to the Neighb News with PayPal