commonly used words and their definitions.
d refers to a section in the federal Clean Water Act requiring
all states to submit, biennially to the EPA, a list of waterways
not meeting assigned water quality standards. The 303 d is
a list of the known impaired waters in a state or on tribal
to a conservation restriction, Chapter 132A Sec. 31 allows
the state to purchase an Agricultural Preservation Restriction
on farmlands, restricting use of the land to agricultural
An underground geologic formation capable of holding large
quantities of water. Aquifers may serve as a source of drinking
Microscopic one-celled organisms found everywhere. Some
bacteria have the potential to be a public health threat.
In Massachusetts there are defined limits for a specific
bacteria, fecal coliform, in water bodies.
A topographic designation based on drainage patterns. The
water flowing within a basin (or watershed) eventually flows
to one common point. The state has been divided into 27
major basins under the Watershed Initiative.
Techniques which may be nonstructural, structural or managerial
capable of effectively and economically reducing nonpoint
sources of pollution.
the biological (living) communities in a given body of water
(or other habitat) to determine the complexity, diversity,
and species composition in the water body. This information
helps assess the overall health of the habitat.
of Health (BOH)
Massachusetts it is the local board responsible for health
issues in the community including septic systems.
area of no or limited activity along a water way functioning
as a filter of pollutants contained in runoff, a wildlife
corridor and several other benefits.
61, 61A or 61B
manner by which lands can be classified as Forest Lands in
a process overseen by the MA Department of Environmental Management.
Lands certified as Forest Lands are taxed, at a special rate,
according to provisions established in Chapter 61. Chapter
61A is the section of Chapter 61 applicable to agricultural
and horticultural lands and 61B is the section dealing with
recreational lands eligible for special tax assessments.
waterway classified by the state as being capable of meeting
the following water quality level, "suitable habitat
for fish, other aquatic life and wildlife, and primary and
secondary contact recreation. Can be used, when so designated,
as drinking water with proper treatment and for agriculture
and industry and good and consistent aesthetic value."
Water Act (CWA)
federal law establishing comprehensive national policies for
water quality management. The essence of the CWA is to have
all US waters "fishable and swim able".
2000, the Community Preservation Act (CPA) was
passed in Massachusetts providing the opportunity for communities
to choose to establish a local fund to be used for open space
protection, historic preservation and the creation of low
and moderate income housing. To establish a fund, communities
must pass by referendum a property tax of up to 3% dedicated
to their Community Preservation Fund.
volunteer board within A Massachusetts community responsible
for administering the Wetland Protection Act and the River
the natural process of eutrophication, growth and decay in
an aquatic ecosystem, is accelerated by an increase of nutrients
derived from societal sources such as lawns, roads, wastewater,
and stormwater runoff.
method used to assess the ecological health of lakes or ponds
and specify management and corrective actions.
Services Self-Help funds
Division of Conservations Services is within the Executive
Office of Environmental Affairs. The Self Help Funding program
is charged with helping communities acquire or protect, through
conservation restrictions, land for the protection of wildlife,
habitat, and unique cultural, historic or natural resources
and for passive recreation. Lands may include forests, water
resources, and farmlands. Land purchased with the help of
these funds must be open to the public.
water as it leaves a treatment system. Examples are discharges
from sewage treatment facilities or water used in an industrial
pond receiving an excess of nutrients, especially phosphorus,
from the surrounding watershed will experience a greatly accelerated
rate of plant growth. Plant growth and decomposition is a
natural process but when the nutrients cause excessive growth
the natural system is overwhelmed. The result is often thick
plant and algae growth in a pond, loss of biodiversity, stressful
conditions for aquatic life and the potential for complete
collapse of the natural ecosystem.
relatively new and useful computerized system able to create
data layers amenable to transfer onto maps and other useful
products for assessing a river basin. Data layer examples
include all open space, watershed boundaries, and land use.
surface, which does not allow water to penetrate such as pavement.
transfer of drinking water from one basin into another. These
transfers are regulated by the state.
are plants or animals able to quickly and easily populate
an area or habitat. They are usually very adaptable and can
take advantage of and tolerate disturbed or unstable conditions.
The end result is typically a loss in natural diversity in
the area and diminished value as habitat for birds, animals
and native species.
Executive Order 418
January 2000, EO 418 is comprised of two components: Community
Development Planning and Housing Certification. Together these
two initiatives establish a comprehensive new approach to
identifying suitable locations for new housing opportunities
in Massachusetts, providing communities with needed resources
and incentives for housing production, while considering the
existing infrastructure and regional economy and preserving
the unique character and valuable open spaces of its towns
federal program under the Clean Water Act created to monitor
point source discharges such as sewage treatment plant effluent
and industrial discharges.
form of nitrogen readily usable by vegetation. Excessive amounts
of nitrate can disrupt ecological balances in a natural system.
High levels of nitrate in drinking water pose a health threat
especially for children (blue baby syndrome).
from another region or continent introduced to an area. Non
native plants usually do not have the same checks and balances
in place, as is the case with native species, and the result
is often rampant invasion by the non natives. Areas dominated
by these plants may not be useful to native species for food,
shelter or habitat and usually displace the native plant community.
originating from multiple and not easily identifiable sources.
Storm water is a significant contributor of nonpoint pollutants
since it washes pollutants from impervious surfaces such as
plant or animal prone to causing problems in ecosystem function
or to the health, enjoyment, or aesthetic value of an ecosystem.
individual system for treating wastewater, commonly called
a septic system.
1998 EPA published this followup to its 1990 National Pollutant
Discharge Elimination System (NPDDES) rules which seek to
“preserve, protect and improve the Nation’s water
resources from polluted storm water runoff”. Phase II
expanded the existing Phase I program by instituting controls
– through the use of NPDDES permits -- on unregulated
sources of storm water discharges that have the greatest likelihood
of causing environmental degradation, namely additional owners
and operators of medium and large municipal separate storm
sewer systems (MS4s) in urbanized areas and construction sites.
Phase III will take effect in the near future will effect
all municipalities irregardless of population or size.
nutrient often serving as the limit to growth in freshwater
systems. Excessive amount of phosphorus in a water body can
lead to a condition of unchecked plant growth known as eutrophication.
of First Refusal
encourage landowners to keep their land as open space
– that is, not developed into residential, commercial
or industrial uses – the MA Commonwealth passed Chapter
61 (Forestry), Chapter 61A (Agriculture & Horticulture)
and Chapter 61B (Recreation) of the Massachusetts General
Laws. These three classifications of the Chapter 61 program
are designed to give favorable tax treatment to landowners
who will keep their land undeveloped and managed according
to certain criteria. A requirement of enrolling in Chapter
61, Chapter 61A or 61B programs (similar in effect to NH’s
“Current Use” Program) is that the municipality
is given the “right of first refusal” to purchase
the property within 120 days of presentation of a Purchase
and Sale agreement (and at the P&S price) if the land
use of the property is to change from “undeveloped”
to “developed”. The municipality has the ability
to transfer its RFR to a non-profit conservation organization
Protection Act (RPA)
newly enacted law creating a 200-foot river resource area
around most of the perennial rivers and streams in Massachusetts
to better protect the quality of our river resources. The
RPA expands the scope of the Wetland Protection Act.
federal law passed in 1974 creating a federal program to monitor
and increase the safety of drinking water. Amended in 1986
to establish new enforcement responsibilities for EPA and
changes in nation-wide safeguards.
by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
(DES), the NH Rivers Management and Protection Program (RSA
483 1988), was created to recognize and designate rivers to
be protected for their outstanding natural and cultural resources.
Through stated protection measures, the scenic beauty —
significant views to and from the river -- and recreational
potential of such rivers shall be restored and maintained,
riparian interests shall be respected, instream flows shall
be enhanced, and the enjoyment of outstanding river characteristics
shall not be diminished.
1975 amendment to MGL Chapter 132A Sec 16, stating that given
this watershed’s very high quality waters “no
new discharge of treated or untreated sewage or other wastewater
will be permitted to be discharged…nor shall anyone
install or construct any new outfall, drainage pipe [etc.]
… to the Squannacook and Nissitissit Rivers Sanctuary”
which includes these river’s tributaries.
Squannassit Initiative is a coalition of individuals, municipalities,
and non-profit organizations dedicated to preserving the existing
natural ecology and cultural heritage in the northern part
of the Massachusetts portion of the Nashua basin, including
land in the towns of Groton, Dunstable, Ayer Lunenburg, Pepperell,
Shirley, Townsend, and Ashby. Initiative seeks to preserve
the integrity of the Squannassit ecosystem by protecting critical
links, which allow wildlife to move among major protected
blocks of land and by expanding the protected lands to include
other ecologically and culturally important areas. It seeks
to protect the cultural heritage by documenting its history
and protecting historic lands and landscapes. In Spring 2002
the Initiative submitted to MA EOEA nominations for the Squannassit
and Petapawag regions as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern.
In December 2002 these two ACECs were officially designated
by the state. The Nashua River Watershed Association provides
coordination for the Initiative.
fund from which a community can apply for zero interest loans
to assess or improve wastewater problems in the community.
Scope of the SRF has recently been expanded.
Massachusetts regulation overseeing on-site wastewater treatment
systems. Improperly or poorly functioning on-site systems
(Septic Systems) have the potential to adversely impact nearby
Daily Load (TMDL)
Federal Clean Water Act requires each state to identify waters
for which effluent limitations are not stringent enough to
meet water quality standards. The TMDL established the allowable
pollutant loading from all contributing sources to achieve
water quality standards. TMDLs may also be applied to waters
threatened by excessive pollutant loading (i.e.non-point sources).
stream or river flowing into a larger, mainstream river.
which is used for some purpose, then discarded or "wasted".
Usually refers to the water used in households, business and
industry and containing wastes.
Chapter 21 G) The intent of the WMA is to manage water uses,
maintain safe yields, and plan for future water needs and
this is done through the issuance of permits to withdraw set
volumes of water from ground and surface supplies. The MA
Dept. of Environmental Management administer the WMA based
on decisions made by the Water Resources Commission.
area of land contributing runoff and subsurface flow to one
common point. Large watershed may be divided into smaller
of land with saturated or nearly saturated soils most of the
year and serves as an interface between land-based and water-based