New Bedford appears to be the latest Massachusetts municipality set to create a new ordinance with respect to stormwater runoff. The mayor submitted an amendment to the city's Code of Ordinance on Feb. 21 to include a stormwater management ordinance. The ordinance will help the city comply with the EPA's National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems (known as NPDES) Stormwater Phase II permit program. This program, which is based on the density of population of an area, has a goal of reducing pollutants and contaminant being discharged by municipal storm sewers.
The proposed ordinance would establish minimum requirements to control adverse effects of runoff, reduce sediment and nutrient loading, and control erosion and sedimentation from construction activities. Once in effect, any developer who will significantly alter or move land, change drainage patterns, or adding impervious areas, would have to obtain a stormwater permit from the City through the Department of Infrastructure.
The City Ordinance would likely be similar to guidelines set out by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in its Stormwater Policy released in 2008. The MA DEP Stormwater Policy applies to certain projects that would also require a filing under the Wetlands Protection Act. While we haven't seen the proposed ordinance, we assume it would apply similar standards to development projects whether they are upland project or within the jurisdiction of the Wetlands Protection Act.
Norfolk Ram is a leader in Massachusetts in Low Impact Development strategies for stormwater management. For more information on Low Impact Development, please download our free LID presentation and please check out our Raingarden brochure which highlights the benefits of one such LID strategy known as raingardens, or bioretention cells. For further information on stormwater management, please see our stormwater management and drainage page or contact John B. McAllister, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.
Information for this blog post was taken from a March 12, 2013 article by Auditi Guha in the Standard Times titled " New Bedford to adopt new stormwater ordinance."
The United States Environmental Protection Agency, through its Region 1 office has issued an update to its Draft Small MS4 Permits in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The single draft permits for all Massachusetts watersheds are expected to be issued this Spring.
The MS4 permits are issued under the EPA's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System which is authorized under the Clean Water Act. The MS4 programs designate reporting requirements and encourage municipalities to implement stormwater treatment and management practices. The goals of the permit program are intended to reduced the pollutant loadings into our nation's waterways.
The MS4 programs apply to communities that fit the EPA's definition of an urbanized area. An urbranized area is defined as "a densely settled core of census tracts and/or census blocks that have population of at least 50,000, along with adjacent territory containing non-residential urban land uses as well as territory with low population density included to link outlying densely settled territory with the densely settled core. It is a calculation used by the Bureau of the Census to determine the geographic boundaries of the most heavily developed and dense urban areas." As you will see on the graphic below, MS4 areas can cover part or the whole of a municipality, depending on its population density.
To learn more about Norfolk's stormwater management and municipal engineering services please see the respective pages or contact John B. McAllister at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.
The federal clean water act requires that any facility that has a potential for oil spills to take all steps possible to prevent oil discharge to our nations waters through the implementation of a Spill Prevention Control & Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan. Any facility that stores more than 1,320 gallons of oil in an aboveground storage tank is required to develop and implement the SPCC.
EPA recently sent out a news release about a local fuel storage and distribution company facing possible fines for violations of the Clean Water Act as it was unprepared to carry out its Facility Response Plan.
Norfolk Ram is experienced in developing SPCC plans and understands the regulations of the Clean Water Act so we can assist our clients to comply with all applicable regulations. Beyond just creating an SPCC plan that may sit on a shelf somewhere, Norfolk Ram will tailor a site-specific plan with useful and applicable information and will work with the client and provide training if necessary to help the client know to how handle a potential spill. Part of the reason that local fuel company is facing fines was due to the fact that its employees were not adequately trained, and the facility had an unsuccessful response to a unnannounced oil spill simulation at its site.
To learn more about SPCC plans, areas regulated, and the information needed, please download our SPCC Compliance Kit and feel free to contact Brian Moran or Wayne Perry, P.E> at (508) 747-7900 extensions 189 and 193 to discuss SPCC plans.
In this holiday shortened week, we thought we'd provide a couple of links to some neighbors of ours making national headlines this.
The first story is about our neighbors in New Bedford. You may recall last week we wrote about the Superfund Settlement in New Bedford Harbor, well this week EPA had a new press release about New Bedford Harbor. EPA has announced the approval of the construction of the South Terminal Project in New Bedford. The project "consisting of approximately seven acres of filled waters and 21 acres of upland area, as well as the navigational dredging of 47 acres of the harbor associated with that construction, including creation of a confined aquatic disposal cell for disposal of contaminated soils" should provide public health precuations and address the contaminants in the Harbor.
Also in the news this week, a story on NPR's and APM's Marketplace about the impact of climate change on the cranberry industry. Here in Plymouth county, cranberries are a pretty significant part of the culture here, so it was interesting to hear about the issues facing the industry.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Many of our clients are surprised to learn that 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. The lesson here is to check the list. The credit ranges from 25 to 50% of net response costs. The credits are both transferable and can be rolled from year to year, so you can obtain a benefit even if you have no taxes due. In order to qualify for the credit, the taxpayer must not have owned or operated the site at the time of the release or contributed to the release. Given how common it is for property owners to end up “paying for prior owner’s poor practices”, it is surprising how few claims are made under the Brownfields Tax Credit. 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.
Find out if you qualify for a Brownfield Tax Credit!
Two environmental groups recently filed separate lawsuits against the EPA hoping for further action in addressing nutrient loadings in our nation's waterways. The groups cited water quality problems in our nation's waterways related to excessive algae growth and other nutrient loading issues.
One of the groups concerned with the water quality in the Gulf of Mexico, wanted numeric limitations for nitrogen and phosphorus when such standards aren't already set by each state's water quality standards. Nitrogen is a limiting nutrient in salt water bodies whereas phosphorus is a limiting nutrient in fresh water bodies. The group wants either minimum numeric criteria set or for the EPA to issue a Total Maximum Daily Load for these nutrients.
The EPA denied the group's initial petition, stating it wanted to support targeted regional and state activities and help with the development of state approaches to controlling these nutrients.
Algae Blooms in a fresh water pond
The second lawsuit, by an environmental organization based in New York, wanted action from the EPA on a petition it filed with the EPA in 2007. The petition asked for the EPA to publish revised information regarding the technology for municipal wastewater treatments plants, particularly to reflect recent improvements in nutrient removal in some processes. The publication regarding these treatment plants was last updated in 1985. The group claims updating the publications would form the basis for regulating wastewater treatment plants in the future, requiring some minimum level of nutrient removal.
If you have any questions about wastewater treatment processes or nutrient removal from wastewater, please contact Kevin Klein, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 130.
Information in this blog post taken from the May 2012 issue of Civil Engineering Magazine, article entitled "Lawsuits Seek to Compel US EPA to target Nutrients more Aggressively" by Jay Landers, Pg 22-25.
The US EPA issued its final 2012 Construction General Permit on February 16, 2012. The new permit will replace the expired 2008 permit, and will be in effect until 2017. The Permit provides coverage for new and existing construction projects that exceed the thresholds of disturbance. The permit's goal are to reduce sedimentation and pollution from stormwater runoff from large construction projects.
The original draft permit included a numerical limit for Turbidity, however that was not included in the final permit. The final permit required Best Management Practices be prescribed. A guide on how to meet the Best Management Practices is included as an appendix to the Permit.
Another change is for construction sites that discharge to impaired waterbodies (from sediment or nutrients) are subject to more rapid stabilization and more frequent site inspections. The new permit requires the preparation of a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan prior to submitting a Notice of Intent with EPA. The Notice of Intent must be submitted electronically, and more information can be found by visiting the EPA's NPDES Construction General Permit website.
Erosion Control is necessary to prevent runoff from affecting downgradient resource areas.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recently reached an agreement with the Dow Chemical Company to clean up to 1,500 residential properites contaminated with dioxins in Midland Michigan, home of its manufacturing plant and corporate headquarters. The agreement proposes an action level of 250 parts per trillion of dioxins in the residential soils. The action level is set in accordance with EPA's approved risk assessment procedures, and their recent announcement setting a safe level of exposure for TCDD, a potent congener.
Soil sampling will begin in June for the project, and the program will also offer relocation support to people who rent affected homes, should the homeowner not choose to participate in the program. As an extra effort, Dow says it is also offering to purchase approximately 50 homes and lots located within the industrial and commercially zoned area noted in the cleanup agreement.
For more information of Dioxins or soil and groundwater contamination, contact Brian V. Moran, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 189 or (508) 309-4793.
Information in this post taken from an article entitled "Michigan, Dow Agree on Cleanup" by Glenn Hess, on Page 7 of the February 27, 2012 edition of Chemical & Engineering News.
Norfolk engineers met last week with representatives from MA DEP and the US EPA regarding the annual 319 Nonpoint source pollution grant program. Norfolk has worked on several successful grant projects in the past for Towns like Cohasset and Yarmouth, and is currently working on projects in Cohasset, Hull, Sherborn, and Westport.
The grant program aims to address non point source pollutants affecting Massachusett's bodies of water. One of the ways Norfolk has been able to help its clients win the grants and implement them is through engineering design incorporating low impact development. We have helped design and implement bioretention cells, also known as raingardens, grassed swales, sediments forebays, constructed wetlands, and subsurface recharge systems, all known as stormwater Best Management Practices.
To find out more about the grant opportunities available either through the 319 program or other state and federal grants, please contact John McAllister at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.
Download our Free Grant Application Success Roadmap.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that is has established a safe level of exposure to the most toxic form of dioxin. The daily dose is set at 0.7 picograms of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) per kilogram of body weight. TCDD is the most toxic congener of the dioxins, which are unintentional by-products of manufacturing processes involving chlorine and the burning of waste or biomass.
Currently in the U.S. backyard waste burning is the highest source of dioxins. People are exposed to dioxins mostly by eating poultry, dairy, fish or eggs. EPA claims that "most Americans have only low-level exposure to dioxins" and that this "does not pose a significant health risk."
Information for this post was taken from the February 27, 2012 issue of Chemical and Engineering News, edited by William G. Schulz and Sophia L. Cai.