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Southcoast towns may face water use restrictions in the future

  
  
  
  
  

An article by Ariel Wittenberg in last week's Standard Times touched on the impending water use restrictions that may be put in place by 2015 for Towns that get their water supply from the Mattapoisett River Valley. These towns include Fairhaven, Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester, which all draw from this aquifer.

The existing system for some of the municipalities is that when the Mattapoisett River flows below a certain level, the municipalites enact a water use restriction until the water levels rise past that certain threshold. In the future, however there may be annual water use restrictions enacted in the springtime through until the fall.

The MA Department of Environmental Protection is expected to review its water-use permits for the Towns abutting Buzzards Bay in 2015.  The participating towns have formed the Mattapoisett River Valley Water Supply Protection Advisory Committee, which is exploring its options for annual water restrictions.

The DEP's goal is to implement water conservation measures that will balance the need for drinking water with the protection of the ecosystem in the area. In an area of the state where these restrictions historically haven't taken place, it may take some adjustments, but, it appears the Advisory committee is preparing for any potential changes so they can deal with it in stride.

Information from this post taken fro mteh January 21 article titled "Towns brace for potential 2015 water restrictions" by Ariel Wittenberg in the Standard Times.

For information about municipal water supplies, please contact Mark S. Bartlett, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 131. Or for more information about adjusting to municipal watering restrictions through rainwater re-use systems, please see our blog articles about Rainwater Harvesting

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Grant expected for Cape Cod to create a wastewater action plan

  
  
  
  
  

An article in the Cape Cod Times annnounced that the Cape Cod Commission was expected to recieve a $3.35 million grant from the Massachusetts Water Abatement Trust. The grant is aimed at helping the Commission develop a water management plan as required by the US Clean Water Act.

Many people on the Cape and in the region support the move in addressing the excess nutrients and bacteria that are negatively affecting the embayments and waterbodies of the Cape.  Current costs estimates show the need for between $3 billion and $8 billion to upgrade the infrastructure to effectively manage the wastewater in the region.  The idea behind developing this regional plan is to set forth a clear strategy that will keep implementation costs on the lower end of the spectrum.

The Cape Cod Commission believes it could have a draft plan in place within a year if it recieves the grant.  Within three years, they could have a complete plan, which would include more planning tools, a public outreach program and monitoring, according to Cape Cod Commission Executive Director Paul Niedzwiecki.

Information use for this post taken from the article titled "First drops being to flow" by Patrick Cassidy, from the Thursday, January 10, 2013 edition of the Cape Cod Times.

For more information about wastewater, including management and treatment options, please contact Kevin P. Klein, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 130 or kklein@norfolkram.com

Also available for those wanted to learn more about wastewater management, you can download our white paper on Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Options.

What do the 2012 election results mean to the engineering industry?

  
  
  
  
  

The ballots are counted and results announced. Now the question is: “What does the recent presidential, congressional and the Massachusetts election results mean?” To shed some light on this topic, the ACEC/MA Program Committee sponsored an election wrap-up on November 8, 2012. Speakers included Larry Rasky, Chairman of Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications and Ernest Paicopolos, Principal of Opinion Dynamic Corporation.

Larry Rasky led off the presentations. He felt that the main points of the election were: several crucial issues were debated during the election; the money spent on the campaigns was enormous; and the public made a statement to the government, as witnessed by the support to the President relative to the President’s action on the auto industry bail out.

Prior to President Obama’s first election in 2008, Mr. Rasky believes that the President did not understand how bad the economy was. Mr. Rasky felt that the mid-term election signaled the end of the “on the job training,” so in November 2010, the Republicans took over in the congress. However, the pubic appears to have approved of the stimulus money that went to hiring teachers, fire and police forces, as illustrated by the voters support and election results in industrial heartland states.

Mr. Rasky noted that the debates took on a sense of a political version of “Saturday Night Live.” The first debate gave Romney a “second life” but he never performed in a way which would change the public’s opinion and the presidential race. Mr. Rasky felt that the handling of a series of actions early on forced Romney into severe conservatism even though he was already a moderate conservatist. The President took aim at the Republicans forcing Romney to appear even more conservative, as shown by the “etch a sketch” incident. The 47% video demonstrated how disconnected Romney was from the public and escalated a poor public opinion.

Ernie Paicoplos discussed the lessons learned and offered his overall impressions of the election. According to Mr. Paicopolos President Obama was set to beat the challenger, even though there was still health care concerns and high unemployment. The Democratic team had re-framed the issues to help themselves and secure a win at the election. Hurricane Sandy clearly helped the re-election of President Obama. Mitt Romney did not know how to address the new voting group in the country.

According to Mr. Paicopolos, other key takeaways include:
• There was not a large margin to the win, suggesting that the US is still divided on who should run the country.
• Pre-election polling was validated in that the election was as close as the polls had predicted.
• Party identification still matters.
• The shift in demographics matters, such as marital status rather than gender, and independent voters not being as big an issue as it was in 2008.
• The Republican party needs to re-cast themselves to address the changed make-up of the voters, such as changes in white voters vs. non-white voters, and the increasing younger population of voters.
• Issue targeting works, when campaigning in target areas.
• There was a “super storm surge.” Hurricane Sandy clearly effected the election; 42% of voters said responses to “Sandy” by the Obama administration were important and appropriate. Even Governor Christy’s opinion of the administration had changed.
• “It was the improving economy stupid”—people believed this point of view, as noted by the 6 out of 10 who voted in Ohio in favor of the President and his car industry bailout.

Mr. Paicopolos stated that “in politics you never know what will happen.” When asked what he thought the upcoming areas of concern and attention would be, he predicted that clean energy, the energy/security bill and transportation would see a renewed focus in the next Congress, as a result of Hurricane Sandy and a renewed awareness on infrastructure. He further commented that the future for the engineering community appeared to be strong, with considerable opportunities for new work expected to be coming out in the near future.


This article comes from the Winter 2013 edition of ACEC Insights publication  and was written by Associate Wayne C. Perry, who currently serves as a member of the ACEC/MA Programs Committee. He can be reached at 508-747-7900, Ext. 193 or wperry@norfolkram.com.

Dam Repair Bill for Massachusetts gets passed

  
  
  
  
  

The Massachusetts State Legislature recently passed a bill that would set aside $17 million for the repair or removal of unsafe, abandoned dams or dams that have outlived their usefulness.  This bill should make it easier for cities and towns to repair or remove weakening dams or seawalls.

The bill would require emergency plans be created for all dams that are inspected and found to be at a high or significant hazard of failure.  The bill would also set up a State Revolving Loan Fund, similar to what is in place for Clean Water projects, to provide low-interest loans to private dam owners and to cities and towns to inspect, repair and remove dams.

In addition to the inland dam provisions of the bill, a portion of the money will also go towards coastal infrastructure improvements, including jetties, retaining walls and levies. A report from the Department of Conservation and Recreation had identified $1 billion in needed repairs to over 140 miles of sea walls on Massachusetts' coast.

The bill will help improve the health of rivers and the marine wildlife by restoring the natural flow of waterways that have been blocked by dams that have outlived their usefulness.

The last notable provision of the bill is that it will set up an inspection schedule to ensure that all "high hazard dams" are inspected at least every two years and all "significant hazard dam" are inspected at least every five years.

For questions or more information about dam inspections and dam safety, please contact Mark S. Bartlett at (508) 747-7900 extension 131.

Information for this post taken from a January 1, 2013 Cape Cod Times article entitled "Mass. lawmakers OK bill to repair, remove old dams" by Steve LeBlanc of the Associated Press and a January 2, 2013 article in the Boston Globe titled "Mass OK's bill to fund seawalls, dam work" by Kathy McCabe.

 

Norfolk employees offer advice on Site Development and building

  
  
  
  
  

Cape & Plymouth Business Magazine recently published its August issue themed "The Business of Building."  For its cover story, the editors reached out to Norfolk Ram for advice on industry trends and where we see the future of site development and redevelopment going. The article  offers collective advice from some of the folks involved in the different aspects of building and development throughout the South Shore and Cape Cod.  You can view the article here (the cover story starts on Page 28) .

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If you have questions or would like more information about site development, please contact Mark S. Bartlett, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 131.

Second Round of Infrastructure Grants Announced

  
  
  
  
  

The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development has announced that it has made available the application materials for its latest round of the MassWorks Infrastructure Program.

The program is a consolidation of six former grant programs and provides public infrastructure financing to support economic development and job and housing creation.  This includes transportation improvements in small, rural communities, mixed use developments, and redevelopment of previously developed sites.  All the relevant materials regardind the program are available at www.mass.gov/hed/massworks

The submission period for grant application runs between August 27 and September 10, 2012,  so there is still plenty of time to put together an application.  The grant award decisions will be made by the end of October. Last year's program awarded grants to 42 communities throughout Massachusetts; projects that are set to begin construction this spring.

If you have questions about the MassWorks Infrastructure Program or how it could apply to you or your organization, please contact Mark Bartlett at (508) 747-7900 extension 131.

Massachusetts Releases report on Water and Wastewater Infrastructure

  
  
  
  
  

The Massachusetts Water Infrastructure Finance Commission just released a report that the State is facing a $21 billion funding gap for water and wastewater infrastructure over the next 20 years.

Former Norfolk Ram employee and co-chair of the commission Carolyn Dykema stated: “Water is one of our most basic needs, yet we often take the infrastructure that delivers it to our homes and businesses for granted. By making investment in our water system a priority, we are also prioritizing economic growth, job creation, and the sustainability of our communities. This report highlights the work we need to do to fund and maintain this important public asset and lays out a road map for creating a 21st-century water infrastructure system to meet the needs of our Commonwealth.”

Water Infrastructure Committee Chairs -Sen. Jaime Eldridge and Rep. Carolyn Dykema.

The Commission's report determined that a significant increase in spending and funding will be needed to address this funding gap and they have laid out several strategies to do this, including:

  • Sustaining current Revolving Fund investments
  • Establishing a trust fund
  • Promoting BMPs to reduce costs and find efficiencies
  • Promoting environmental sustainability and innovation

as well as several other strategies.

For more on the Water Infrastructure Commission's report, please see the release from Representative Dykema's website .

Norfolk to attend Massachusetts Conservation Commissioners Annual Environmental Conference

  
  
  
  
  

Norfolk will attend the Massachusett's Association of Conservation Commissioners (MACC) annual environmental conference at the College of the Holy Cross on March 3, 2012.

The conference is a great exhibition for Conservation Commissioners and Conservation Agents to attend continual education workshops and discuss issues affecting other areas of the Commonwealth.

To see more about the annual conference, please visit the MACC's website.

Learn more about the consulting services Norfolk Ram can provide to local Conservation Commissions or other local boards, feel free to swing by our both at the conference, visit our Municipal Services page, or contact John McAllister at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.

 

Changes to Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) Inspections

  
  
  
  
  

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Aboveground storage tanks (AST) that hold any fluid other than water (gasoline, diesel, oils) in quantities greater than 10,000 gallons are required to be inspected annually by the Department of Fire Services (DFS). 

The inspection program was originally born out of the Boston Molasses Disaster and flood of 1919.  Then, an AST containing over 2,000,000 gallons of molasses collapsed and sent a tidal wave of molasses through the city's North End, killing 21 people and injuring over 150 people.

While we've come a long way since those days, AST regulations are changing again, with the first phase of the new program to begin on May 1, 2012.  The DFS will be issuing new inspection forms and creating a more accurate database of registered ASTs.  As part of the program, AST owners will be recieving renewal notices three months prior to the expiration of the AST Use permit. 

Norfolk employees recently attended a meeting at the DFS offices to go over the changes in the programs and its effects on inspectors and inspections.  To learn more about the AST program or Spill Prevention and Counter Control Measures (SPCC) please contact John McAllister at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.

Download our free SPCC Compliance Kit here.

Stormwater Project in Hull recieves praise in local newspaper

  
  
  
  
  

Norfolk has been working with the Town of Hull, particularly through its Department of Public Works and Conservation Commission to design and implement stormwater management improvements to improve runoff heading into Straits Pond.  Norfolk handled all of the design and permitting for the project, which is currently under construction. The project was recently written up in the Hull Times, January 26, 2012 edition.  You can read the entire article clicking following the link below:

Hull Times Article on Straits Pond

Richard@Pond Looking South resized 600For more information on Stormwater management or grant opportunities, please contact John McAllister at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.

Download our FREE Raingarden informational brochure here.

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