State Innovation Grant  Program: Massachusetts
                      Assabet River Watershed Permit (2002 Competition)
                        ie innovation urani rrogram 10 support
efforts led by state environmental agencies to test innovative approaches
for achieving better environmental results and improved efficiency in
permitting programs. Between 2002 and 2007, the State Innovation Grant
program competition awarded over six million dollars to support 35 state
projects that test permitting innovation for a variety of regulated entities
including several small business sectors. Asummary of the awards by year
appears in the table below.
    State Innovation Grant Program Statistics, 2002-2007
 Competition   Proposals  Proposals     Total Program
    Year      Submitted   Selected       Funding ($)
  2002/2003
                                         $618,000
                                        $1.425 Million
                                        $1.479 Million
 Cumulative
                                        $1.243 Million
                                        $1.611 Million
                                        $6.376 Million
"Innovation in Permitting" has been the theme of the State Innovation Grant
competition since its inception. In the last three competition cycles states
received awards for projects in the following three categories:
 The Environmental Results Program (ERP) is an innovative
  approach to improving environmental performance based on a system
  of the interlocking tools of compliance assistance, self-certification
  (sometimes, where permissible, in lieu of permitting), and
  statistically-based measurement to gauge the performance of an entire
  business sector. The program utilizes a multimedia approach to
  encourage small sources to achieve environmental compliance and
  pollution prevention. (See: http://www.epa.gov/permits/erp/)
 Environmental Management System (EMS) is a system involving a
  continual cycle of planning, implementing, reviewing and improving the
  processes and actions that an organization undertakes to meet its
  business and environmental goals. EMSs provide organizations of all
  types with a structured system and approach for managing
  environmental and regulatory responsibilities to improve overall
  environmental performance and stewardship.
  (See: www.epa.gov/ems/info/index.htm)
 Performance Track is a partnership that recognizes top
  environmental performance among participating US facilities of all types,
  sizes, and complexity, both public and private.
  (See: http://www.epa.gov/performancetrack/)
NCEI has provided awards also for projects testing watershed-based
permitting, and for permit process streamlining in past competitions. For
more information on the history of the programs, including information on
solicitations, state proposals, and project awards, please see the EPA State
                      ittD://www.eDa.aov/innovation/statear
Project  Background:
 In late 2002, the Massachusetts Department of
 Environmental Protection (MassDEP) reached a
 turning point in its efforts to restore the health of the
 Assabet River. The state had designated the river as
 a water body that should support fish and wildlife
 habitat, and allow swimming, fishing, and boating.
 However, the  river did not meet the standards for this
 use because  of pollution  and excessive plant and
 algae growth choking the waterway. A primary
 contributor to Assabet River's poor water quality was
 the nutrient phosphorus, which originated from two
 main sources: effluent from Publicly Owned
 Treatment Works (POTWs) and sediments that had
 collected  behind  obsolete dams.  The  dams were
 built in the 1800s and early 1900s to power industrial
 mills, and although most of the  mills no longer
 existed, the remaining dams stalled the river flow
 and created impoundments where phosphorus-laden
 sediments collected.  In 2003, MassDEP received a
 State Innovation Grant (SIG) that helped them to
 develop an innovative approach to watershed
 permitting not only to regulate the four independently
 operated POTWs discharging into the river, but also
 to investigate  the  potential removal of sediment in
 the impoundments to reduce total  phosphorus
 loading into the stream.

Project Description
 With State Innovation Grant Funds, as well as state
 and local funds, MassDEP conducted research that
 was instrumental in understanding the sources of
 phosphorus pollution on the Assabet River.  This
 enabled  Massachusetts to work toward developing a
 cost effective  watershed-based permitting approach.
 The effort had two major components:
                          NCE
                          NATIONAL CENTER FOR
                          ENVIRONMENTAL INNOVATION

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Sediment Modeling and Research

MassDEP researched sources of phosphorous
pollution and potential strategies to address them by:

 Modeling a variety of phosphorous reduction
  strategies, including reducing discharges from point
  sources such as POTWs, removing sediments
  trapped behind  dams, and removing dams
  altogether; and confirming the assumptions used in
  these models through additional research carried out
  by the United States Geological Survey (USGS); and

 Developing a detailed dam and sediment removal
  feasibility study  scope of work that considered cost
  effective alternatives to achieve water quality
  standards.

As part of its research, the state modeled nutrient
loading from the six impoundments along the Assabet
River. These models determined  that once point
sources were reduced, the sediments in the dam
impoundments accounted for much of the phosphorus
pollution and that any strategy to improve water quality
would have to address both sediments and POTWs.

Watershed Based Permit

Massachusetts' Watershed Based Permit was
designed to include non-point source pollution controls
and point source permitting at the POTWs.  The permit
would be implemented in two phases. Phase  1 of
permit implementation required POTWs to reduce their
phosphorous discharges and upgrade facilities so that
they could achieve additional reductions in the future if
necessary.  Phase 2 (to be implemented in 2009)
could require POTWs to meet more stringent limitations
on phosphorus discharges if the towns and state
elected not to remove sediments from behind  the
dams, or if the state or EPA developed new criteria for
phosphorous reduction.

Massachusetts anticipated that the watershed-based
permit would help  reduce the amount of phosphorous
in the river as a step toward meeting  the designated
use of the Assabet River.
Results
 In May 2005, EPA and MassDEP issued discharge
 permits for the POTWs that provided for an 87 percent
 reduction of total phosphorous discharged  during the
 five-year permit cycle.  The implementation of the
 watershed-based permit represents an important
 intermediate outcome that will change POTW behavior
 and reduce pollution in the Assabet River.

 In addition, the permit allows the towns to pursue the
 restoration of the Assabet River to a fishable and
 swimable body of water through the removal or
 inactivation of the many dams and sediment in the
 river. Through the combination of innovative watershed
 permits and community partnerships, that goal is much
 closer. This project has helped lay the foundation of a
 trustful regulatory and community relationship, and
 Massachusetts estimates that within the next 5 to 10
 years it will achieve ecological restoration of the
 Assabet River.

Connection to  EPA's  Goals
 In May 2005, EPA and MassDEP issued discharge
 permits for the POTWs that provided for an 87 percent
 reduction of total phosphorous discharged  during the
 five-year permit cycle.  The implementation of the
 watershed-based permit represents an important
 intermediate outcome that will change POTW behavior
 and reduce pollution in the Assabet River.

 In addition, the permit allows the towns to pursue the
 restoration of the Assabet River to a fishable and
 swimable body of water through the removal or
 inactivation of the many dams and sediment in the
 river. Through the combination of innovative watershed
 permits and community partnerships, that goal is much
 closer. This project has helped lay the foundation of a
 trustful regulatory and community relationship, and
 Massachusetts estimates that within the next 5 to 10
 years it will achieve ecological restoration of the
 Assabet River.

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 Project Contacts:
  For more specific information on the
  Massachusetts State Innovation Grant,
  please contact one of the  individuals
  Dennis (Rick) Dunn
  Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
  Worcester, MA
  508.767.2874
  dennis.dunn@state.ma.us
               Program Contact:
                Sherri Walker
                State Innovation Grant Program
                U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
                Washington, DC 20460 (MC1807T)
                (202)-566-2186; FAX (202) 566-2220
                walker.sherri@epa.gov
  Dave Pincumbe
  U.S. EPA, Region 1
  Boston, MA
  617.918.1695
  pincumbe.david@epa.aov
  Gerald Filbin
  U.S. EPA
  National Center for Environmental Innovation
  Washington, DC
  202.566.2182
  filbin.aerald@epa.gov
United States
Environmental Protection
Agency
Office of Policy,
Economics and Innovation
(1807T)
   February 2008
EPA-100-F-08-016

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