The 2021-22 Legislative Session is underway and MWWA was fortunate to have a number of legislators sponsor bills on our behalf. We have refiled bills that did not pass last session and have filed two new bills to address priorities of our industry. We are requesting that you contact your State Representative and State Senator this week and ask them to please sign on as a co-sponsor to these bills. If you are not familiar with your legislators, you can look up their contact information here; you should put in the address where you live as opposed to where you work so you will be targeting the legislators who directly represent you (if you have good relationships with legislators where you work, also feel free to reach out to them). Also provided is sample legislation cosponsor request email MWWA priorities that you can use in an email message, but feel free to modify it as you see fit to highlight specific points that you want your legislators to know.
Here are summaries of the bills:
2021-2022 Session Priorities:
NEW!! An Act Relative to Retirement Classification of Licensed Drinking Water Operators — House Docket 328/Senate Docket SD1194—Sponsors: Representative Pat Haddad; Senator Anne Gobi—This bill amends Section 3(g) of Chapter 32 of MGL to move licensed water operators to Group II, allowing eligible water operators to be able to meet maximum eligibility requirements for retirement at age 60 (Group II) rather than age 65 (Group I).
NEW!! An Act to Improve the Review and Regulation of Emerging Contaminants on Public Water Systems—House Docket HD2537—Sponsor: Representative Thomas Golden, Jr.—Drinking water systems are regulated by the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) implements the program in Massachusetts. There is not a specified process that MassDEP must follow when promulgating a new drinking water standard beyond the requirements in Mass General Law, Chapter 30A. This bill establishes a formalized process in state statute that MassDEP must follow when proposing new drinking water standards that mimics the federal process, thereby ensuring that the development of new drinking water standards will be science-based and consider costs, feasibility, and most importantly, public health protection to be achieved.
An Act Relative to the Rights of Municipalities and Districts— House Docket HD2345 —Sponsor: Representative Alice Peisch— The Massachusetts Water Management Act (WMA), MGL Chapter 21G, governs water withdrawals in Massachusetts. Water users were required to file a Registration statement in 1987, documenting their water use from 1981-85, so they would be guaranteed access to their historical volumes in perpetuity. MassDEP just recently announced intention to promulgate regulations to conditions the Registrations. This legislation amends Section 2 of MGL 21G, further clarifying the definitions for the permit program and the Registration statement to be consistent with the regulations. The bill also amends Section 5 of MGL 21G, making it clear that all properly filed WMA Registrations statements shall entitle the registrants to their registered water use volumes without conditions and stipulates that no regulations may be promulgated that would allow the imposition of conditions.
An Act to Require the Disclosure of Lead in Water Pipes—House Docket 1674, Senate Docket SD464/Senate Docket 464—Sponsors: Representative Carolyn Dykema; Senator Jason Lewis—This bill amends the Lead Disclosure Act, Section 197A of Chapter 111 of the MA General Laws, to include notification to prospective buyers of lead plumbing, water piping or service lines, in addition to existing disclosures of lead paint and plaster. In light of the tragic water contamination incident in Flint, Michigan, this is an important bill to ensure protection of public health, especially of infants and small children who are most susceptible to lead poisoning.
An Act Relative to Municipal Assistance for Clean Water and Economic Development Infrastructure—House Docket HD1680—Sponsor: Representative Carolyn Dykema—This bill authorizes creation of a $1 Billion Water Infrastructure Bond for a capital outlay program of maintenance and improvements to municipal drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. The grant funding would be distributed to municipalities based on a formula similar to Chapter 90 transportation funding.
An Act providing for the Establishment of Sustainable Water Resource Funds—House Docket HD1672—Sponsor: Representative Carolyn Dykema—This bill would encourage the use of “water banking” by cities and towns. Water banking can be an effective management tool for communities to mitigate, or offset, the impacts of increased demands on water resource intensive services, balance the water budget, assist in restoring and protecting instream flow, promote water conservation, and ensure an adequate level of service is available for the provision of potable water as well as the treatment and management of wastewater and stormwater. It would allow cities and towns to collect a reasonable charge to be used for measures to remedy and offset these impacts and to deposit the charge into a separate municipal account for drinking water, wastewater or stormwater. The use of water banking by communities will facilitate the generation of physical savings of water as well as economic savings.
An Act to Assist Municipal and District Ratepayers—House Docket HD609/Senate Docket 329—Sponsors: Representative Jeffrey Roy; Senator Michael Moore—Cities, towns and water and wastewater districts are governed by environmental rules and regulations administered by state agencies under the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA). These rules and regulations apply to the operation of public drinking water systems, wastewater collection and treatment facilities and stormwater management. Compliance with such rules is costly with annual expenditures reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars for some communities. This legislation would require the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to complete a regulatory impact statement on any rule, regulation, guidance document or policy that they propose.
Should you have any questions on these bills, please contact MWWA executive director, Jennifer Pederson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-263-1388, or PCWWA Legislative Chair Tom Sexton at email@example.com or (215) 510-5741.