Drought Management Bill
The 2016 drought was devastating for our rivers and public water supplies, with rivers drying up and drinking water supplies depleted. And here in the Northeast, more drought is in our future according to climate predictions. However, even during severe droughts, the state cannot require outdoor watering restrictions, it can only recommend them. And since water does not respect municipal boundaries, overuse in one community impacts other communities. This bill would give the state the power to require uniform outdoor watering restrictions at the regional level during declared droughts, ensuring consistency and fairness, and protecting our rivers and water supplies.
CSO Notification Bill
Combined sewer systems are designed to collect rainwater runoff, domestic sewage, and industrial wastewater in the same pipe. (This design was an improvement over 19th century sewage ditches running along city streets.) During heavy rains, the system overflows, discharging excess wastewater directly to rivers in order to prevent sewage from backing up into homes and businesses. Right now, there is no general public notification requirement for CSO discharges in Massachusetts, meaning that people using rivers for recreation, downstream communities, and the general public usually don’t know that there might be a health risk present. This bill would institute a statewide sewage discharge notification system that issues alerts within 2 hours of CSO discharges, and enhance other methods of public notification. A notification system is only truly effective if it provides alerts as CSOs are happening, letting people know whether our rivers are safe.