MyRWA Joins Legal Battle to Protect the Mystic

Stormwater runoff is a major source of pollution to the Mystic River.

Stormwater runoff is a major source of pollution to the Mystic River.

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), along with lead plaintiff Massachusetts Rivers Alliance and eight other watershed groups, is suing the federal government over efforts by the Trump Administration to delay implementation of a critical measure protecting our local waterways.  The US-Environmental Protection Agency, acting on the directive of chief Scott Pruitt, issued a one year delay of the 2016 Massachusetts Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4 Permit). This permit put into place new regulations to help protect rivers, lakes, streams and ponds.

“The Mystic River Watershed Association believes that the stay of the MS4 permit was a gross over-reach by an administration that has set out to systematically undermine protections to the environment,” said Patrick Herron, Executive Director of the Mystic River Watershed Association. “This permit was eight years in the making and long overdue.  We need this permit in the Mystic – for a healthy environment and safe recreation.”  

Stormwater, which runs off land, roads and buildings when it rains, carries fertilizer pollution, harmful bacteria, oil, gas, toxic metals, and salt into nearby waterways, represents the state's top pollution problem. The stormwater permit, originally scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2017, lays out a series of practices that will result in cleaner water across the state. The permit requires towns to create a stormwater management plan and directs them to map their stormwater collection systems, monitor outfall pipes, and prioritize cleanup of the most pressing problems, such as the discharge of untreated sewage into nearby waterways via stormdrains.  The permit also requires public outreach, stormwater recharge, and “good housekeeping” practices such as storm drain cleaning and street sweeping.

"The implementation of the new MS4 permit will benefit the restoration of the Mystic River and its tributaries. For this reason, MyRWA and our partners are seeking an injunction to call for immediate implementation of the MS4 Permit. As soon as this is put in place, our communities can begin the municipal investments that will yield dramatic improvements to water quality over time," said Herron.

Read about the suite in The Boston Globe article, Environmental advocates sue the EPA to implement stormwater plan.