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Norfolk Volunteers for Water Supply Work in Panama

  
  
  
  
  

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Norfolk Ram Group geologist, Nate Gardner, traveled to Panama at the end of May as a volunteer with Engineers Without Borders (EWB-USA).  See other Norfolk volunteer work for EWB here.  Nate served as a professional mentor to a group of UMass Dartmouth (UMD) engineering students who traveled to a remote village in the mainland hills of the Bocas Del Toro province in order to improve a community water supply. 

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Because of the growth rate and sprawling nature of the village, the current spring-fed system is undersized and does not have sufficient storage capacity for dry periods.  The five-person travel team spent a week in the village using traditional surveying methods to map the entire aqueduct system and topography, as well as mapping the demographics of the village in order to design a potable-water conveyance system that would could handle the growing water needs of the village.  The intense surveying work in difficult conditions (limitations imposed by weather, terrain, and equipment) actually bolstered the quality of hands-on learning for all members of the team.  In addition, the students prepared and held a village-wide meeting where they shared the results of the initial survey findings and outlined the proposed work and schedule for the implementation phase of the project. describe the image

Construction of the student’s design will primarily be completed by the villagers with money raised solely by the UMD students.  The students plan to make several return trips in the next few years to assist in coordination and execution of the project.

For more information on how Norfolk can address your challenging environmental or civil project, don’t hesitate to give us a call. 

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Massachusetts Clients Should Make Reviewing Brownfields Tax Credit a Top Priority

  
  
  
  
  

Norfolk often helps clients determine their Brownfields Tax Credit   Eligibilityeligibility for Massachusetts Brownfields Tax Credits.  The tax credit has been instrumental in making the cleanup of many sites economically feasible. 

At other sites, clients are surprised to learn that they can recoup up to 50% of the money they have already spent on environmental cleanup.  However, this program is in jeopardy. 

The current credit is set to expire on January 1, 2014.  It is unclear whether or not the credit will be extended or how the credit might change in the legislative process.  Furthermore, a draft directive from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) would limit eligible costs and limit the ability for tax payers to claim the credit for work that may have been completed years ago.          

Organizations such as the Licensed Site Professional Association are working hard to preserve this much needed tax credit. Please click here for the full LSPA News article.  To read the LSPA letter regarding changes to the Brownfields Tax Credit, click here.  To read the LSPA letter regarding the draft DOR directive click here.     

The benefits of the tax credit were recently evaluated in a report entitled "Analysis of the Economic, Fiscal, and Environmental Impacts of the Massachusetts Brownfields Tax Credit Program," which was commissioned by NAIOP Massachusetts, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, and the Massachusetts Economic Development Council.  Among the many other benefits, the report found that the over ten years the state recoups $7.71 in direct revenues for each $1 of brownfields tax credits.  The entire report is available here

We hope this tax credit will be extended and remain similar to its current form.  In the meantime, we encourage anyone who thinks they could be eligible to review their eligibility immediately.  Norfolk would be happy to help you do this.  If you have any questions, please contact Jon Kitchen at (508) 747-7900 x154.

Learn about Norfolk Ram's Brownfields Redevelopment services here.

Free Download: Brownfields Redevelopment Cleanup Financing Options - Information Kit

Town Brook Restoration Brownfields Site Cleanup in the News

  
  
  
  
  

The Old Colony Memorial and Wicked Local recently featured a video of the Town Brook Restoration Project.

As we mentioned a month or so ago (Waiting for the Fish), Norfolk assisted the Town with the investigation and cleanup of a brownfields site (i.e. a former industrial mill site) along the brook.  This cleanup was part of a large environmental restoration program which will greatly improve fish passage along the historic Town Brook. 

The video and photos give a real sense of how much has been accomplished thus far.  With dam removals scheduled in the future we are certain of more improvements to come along the Town Brook corridor. 

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Learn more about Norfolk Ram's Brownfields Redevelopment related services here.

Free Download: Brownfields Redevelopment Cleanup Financing Options Information Kit

MassDEP Overhauls Environmental Cleanup Regulations

  
  
  
  
  
MassDEP New Environmental Cleanup Regulations
Photo Courtesy of Massachusetts Department
of Environmental Protection

Tired of the same old environmental cleanup regulations?Well, your time has come.  The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has proposed sweeping changes to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (310 CMR 40.0000) as part of the agency’s regulatory reform effort to enhance regulatory efficiency.  

The proposed changes are focused on eliminating unnecessary permits, streamlining site classification and deed notice requirements, increasing opportunities for achieving site closure, increasing transparency related to site closure conditions, and updating cleanup standards based on the most recent science.

The draft regulations are being called “the new MCP” and represent the most complete overhaul of environmental regulations governing oil and hazardous material spills since 1993 when the MCP was implemented.  The proposed changes have been grouped into major topic areas as follows:

  • Permit/Tier Classification and Numerical Ranking System
  • Activity and Use Limitations
  • Vapor Intrusion and New Site Closure Provisions
  • Nonaqueous Phase Liquid and Source Control
  • Risk Assessment and MCP Standards

A summary of the proposed regulatory changes was presented to the Licensed Site Professional Association (LSPA) monthly member meeting on April 9, 2013 by MADEP (Click Here).

Public comment on the draft regulations ended on May 17, 2013. A comprehensive response to Public Hearing Draft - Proposed Amendments to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, 310 CMR 40.0000 was prepared by the LSPA which summarized the comments of the LSP community. The LSPA submitted a general comments letter for the major topic areas (Click here), and a set of regulation specific comments and recommendations covering the full scope of the proposed changes (Click here).

The original schedule for implementation of the “new MCP” was July 2013, although MADEP has recently indicated it would like to see the new regulation in effect by late 2013 or early 2014.

If you are wondering how the proposed changes to the MCP may affect your property or a future property you contemplate buying, please feel free to contact us.

Norfolk Ram Group supports the Licensed Site Professional Association.

Charles Young, Associate (508) 747-7900 x126

Learn about Norfolk's Site Remediation Services here.

New Article on Environmental Stewardship for Small Businesses

  
  
  
  
  

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Many businesses and business owners have so many different things taking their time and attention, that its very easy to forget to take some simple steps to protect the environment.  In the latest issue of Cape & Plymouth Business magazine, we have presented an article on Good Stewardship Practices to protect our Water Resources. The article has lots of tips for different strategies and things to consider to protect our surrounding water resources.

Also, this will be my last blog post at Norfolk Ram. After 10 years here, I'm starting a new opportunity and I wanted to take this chance to say thank you.  Thank you to everyone I have worked with over these past years, it really has been great.  I've learned a lot and made some great friendships along the way.  I would recommend Norfolk Ram to anyone looking for environmental service.  These are caring, considerate environmentally focused people that work for their clients and for the environment.  Thank you to all!

Waiting for the Fish

  
  
  
  
  

As I am writing this we are in the early days of April having just wrapped up a Brownfield remediation project with the Town of Plymouth.   This was a marathon project with the goal of getting all earthwork completed by April 1st.  That’s when the fish come in.  All work had to be completed by that date which was no small feat as we combated springtime snow storms, rainfall events and the impending onslaught of herring.

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Historical Topographic Map Showing the Site in 1889

We began environmental investigations at the former Plymco Mill several years ago.  The property sits on the historic Town Brook in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  For well over two hundred years a mill sat at this location making leather goods, snuff, cotton and woolen textiles, metals products, and machinery.  Most recently the mill was used for lumber goods.  The environmental cleanup of the former Plymco Mill is a small part of a larger Town Brook restoration and dam removal project.  The project will remove two failing dams, restore fish passage and habitat, and provide open space and a recreational corridor which will extend from the Plymouth Harbor to the Billington Sea.  The Billington Sea is not a sea but a large pond first sighted in the distance by a young pilgrim named Francis Billington, but I digress. 

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Historical Plan from 1906 showing Mill, Workshops, and other structures

One of the primary goals of the Town Brook restoration project is enhanced fish passage for herring and other spawning fish.  If you remember your elementary school history these are THE fish… the same ones that Samoset, Squanto, and their contemporaries used to show the pilgrims how to plant their corn crops (well maybe the distant cousins of those fish).  The imminent arrival of these fish has been a constant specter looming over all our timeline discussions for the past several months.

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Earthworks at the Plymco with Town Brook in the foreground

 Earlier this year a grant from MassDevelopment ensured that the Plymco Mill remediation portion of this project would become a reality.  Norfolk coordinated the public bidding process on behalf of the Town.  As we surveyed the crowd of potential bidders at the pre-bid meeting on February 6th there were many skeptical looks when we described that the bidding would close, the project would be awarded, and all earthwork would be completed before April 1st.  I tried to convey a sense of overwhelming optimism.  The April 1st deadline is a date after which work in the brook would be prohibited so as to not interfere with the spawning of the herring. 

 

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Daylighting the channel over Town Brook

 The project was awarded on March 4, 2013 to D&C Construction of Rockland Massachusetts.  Less than four weeks later over 5,000 tons of contaminated soil and over 600 tons of debris has been trucked off-site, clean fill has been trucked on-site to replace the contaminated soil, buildings have been demolished, a portion of the brook that has been underground for over 100 years is now exposed to daylight, and the beginnings of Plymouth’s newest open space has been created.  The only thing left to do is to wait on those historic fish.  We are expecting them any day now.     

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View of newly exposed channel of Town Brook

 Kudos and congratulations to the Town of Plymouth for perseverance in getting this accomplished.  Truly an earth moving experience.

For more information about this project or Brownfields assessment, remediation, and redevelopment in general, please feel free to contact us.

Jonathan D. Kitchen, PG, LSP – (508) 747-7900 x154

Joseph P. Salvetti, LSP – (508) 747-7900 x127

Learn about Norfolk Ram's Brownfields Redevelopment related services here.

Free Download: Brownfields Redevelopment Cleanup Financing Options - Information Kit

Brownfield Cleanup Financing Opportunities

  
  
  
  
  

Many of our clients are surprised to learn Brownfield Cleanup Financing Tax Creditthat they are eligible to recoup some of the money they have spent cleaning up oil spills and hazardous waste sites via tax breaks. 

In Massachusetts, one of significant and often overlooked tax break is the Brownfields Tax Credit.  The Massachusetts Brownfields Tax Credit is, just as the name implies, a true tax credit.  It provides certain taxpayers with a credit for the cleanup of properties in economically distressed areas.  You may, or may not, be surprised to find that huge swaths of the state are considered economically distressed areas, including some communities that most of us would consider fairly affluent. 

If you have land pollution clean-up costs associated with your redevelopment project, you may qualify for as much as a 50% refund of these costs in the form of a tax credit, through a Massachusetts funded program.

You may also qualify for Federal incentives and other financing opportunities.To find out more, please download our free Brownfield Redevelopment Cleanup Financing Opportunities Information Kit.  

According to the Massachusetts Tax Credit Transparency Report , in 2011 approximately 80 taxpayers took advantage of this credit achieving a combined tax savings of over $40,000,000.  That may seem like a lot, but it is widely believed that this represents only a fraction of those who are eligible. 

A Federal Brownfields Tax Incentive is also available to some taxpayers.  This incentive allows for environmental cleanup costs at eligible properties to be fully deductable in the year incurred, rather than capitalized and spread over a period of years.  In this case, it is possible to claim the incentive even if the taxpayer caused the release/contamination.  In the past this incentive was not available for sites with only petroleum contamination, but in 2006 the rules were changed to include these sites.  Past tax returns can also be amended to include deductions for past cleanup expenditures. 

If you have questions about brownfields tax credits and incentives, Norfolk would be happy to talk with you and point you in the right direction.  Please contact Jon Kitchen at (508) 747-7900 x154 or use our contact form to tell us a little about your situation and someone will be in touch soon.

More information on the Massachusetts Brownfield Tax Credit is available from the Department of Environmental Protection  and Department of Revenue .  More information on the Federal Brownfields Tax Incentive is available from the EPA

Norfolk is an environmental consulting and engineering firm which provides technical advice on the cleanup of hazardous waste sites.  While Norfolk helps clients identify potential tax benefits, we do not provide tax, legal, or financial advice.  Certain restrictions apply to the credits and incentives discussed above.  Please be sure to consult with a tax professional.

Norfolk Ram Engineers mentor middle school students in engineering

  
  
  
  
  

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Wayne Perry working with the students at
Normandin Middle School in New Bedford 

Citizens Schools is an educational organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day and show students apprenticeships in different career fields. 

Since February of this year, John McAllister has been volunteering in the Citizens School program at the Normandin Middle School in New Bedford, MA.  The class of about 13 students, has been learning about the design process, putting together professional design drawings, water supply, and how different cultures have different access to their water supply.

 Last week, Wayne Perry from our office, came in as a guest speaker to discuss their public water supply in New Bedford and help the students create design drawings for increasing the pumping efficiency for a water supply in rural Uganda. (The project is actually a derivation of an active project that the Tufts University Engineers without Borders group is implementing in Uganda that John McAllister is also active mentor for.)

The Middle School Students will be presenting plans and a model to interested community members on May 7th at 6 p.m. at the school. All are welcome to attend. I would also encourage people if interested to volunteer at a school near year to mentoring in your specialty, you can check it out at Citizens Schools volunteer page . For any questions on the experience, please contact John B. McAllister, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.

Stormwater Management Practices Featured in This Old House

  
  
  
  
  

Raingarden

We here at Norfolk Ram are big proponents of promoting Low Impact Development strategies, including the use of raingardens, as natural solutions for stormwater management.

We have designed and overseen the installation of well over 75 raingardens throughout Massachusetts.  We are constantly preaching the benefits of raingardens, so we were very happy to see that This Old House recently published a feature promoting raingardens as a water quality management tool.

They also published an article discussing the use of rainbarrels as part of a rainwater collection or rainwater harvesting systems.  Rain barrels and rainwater harvesting systems are an effective way of re-using rainwater for irrigation and other purposes.

They can reduce dependence on municipal water supplies and allow you to meet your irrigation needs even when their are municipal water restrictions.

To learn more about raingardens, please download our free raingarden brochure and our Low Impact Development presentation

...And for more information on rain barrels and rainwater harvesting, please see our previous blog posts on rainwater harvesting.

If you have further questions, please feel free to contact Mark Bartlett or John McAllister at (508) 747-7900 extension 131 and 117 respectively.

Cape Cod to develop a Water Quality Management Plan

  
  
  
  
  

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection announced recently that the Governor's administration has signed a Memorandum of Understanding wiht the Cape Cod Commission to develop a Comprehensive Water Quality Management Plan. $3.35 million in funding will be provided for the development of this plan.

The Cape has been plagued with water quality issues resulting from excessive nutriets like nitrogen being discharged into its embayments and other water bodies from septic systems.  These excessive nutrients have lead to algae blooms, closure of shell fishing beds and other issues.

Experts have estimated the total costs to implement the solutions to the nutrient problems could range anywhere from $3 to $8 billion. As part of the Water Quality Management Plan, water resources will be prioritized based non impairment and actions and water quality goals for each water body will be laid out.  Another feature of the plan would be to develop a wastewater "Smart Map" that will link land use data with scientific and financial planning data to identify appropriate and affordable wastewater infrasture solutions.

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Algae Bloom in a Fresh Water Pond

For more information on wastewater treatment options, please download our white paper on Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Options in Massachusetts, check our wastewater treatment  page or contact Kevin P. Klein, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 130.

Information from this article taken from the March 21, 2013 press release from MA DEP titled "Commonwealth Signs Pact with Cape Cod Commission to Develop Water Quality Management Plan"

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