The MA Executive Office of Environmental Affairs contracted with Ambient Engineering of Concord, MA and the SuAsCo Watershed Community Council to conduct the 5-Year Watershed Action Plan (WAP) for the SuAsCo Watershed. This process usually takes 12 months, but due to EOEA’s budget cycle, the process was consolidated into just 4 months in order to be completed by the end of June, 2005.
The WAP identifies the priority issues in the SuAsCo Watershed and the top actions needed over the next 5 years to address those problems in order to improve the watershed’s environmental health. The Plan is driven by existing municipal reports and research data, as well as by public opinion.
The main components of the WAP are as follows:
Assessment Report: compilation of environmentally-related reports in the SuAsCo Watershed, including GIS Maps, municipal open space plans, documents from regional agencies and organizations, etc.
Determining Environmental Priorities and Priority Actions: as determined by the Assessment Report results and discussion by the SuAsCo Watershed Community Council Steering Committee and general public
Public Review: four public forums to solicit public input and comment on environmental priorities and priority actions
The FINAL Watershed Action Plan is now available (click the link; PDF file is 10 MB). The FINAL Assessment Report is also available (click the link; PDF file is 106 MB).
The “Environmental Priorities” lists the issues and problems currently affecting, and which may create future impact upon the environmental health of the SuAsCo Watershed. From this list, the problems that are consistently and repeatedly cited are identified as potential priorities for attention.
The “Priority Actions” includes projects best suited for government action, as well as potential actions that could be taken by other stakeholders in the watershed. Priority Actions must be selected on the basis of public benefit. Priority Action projects include a description of the public environmental benefit, potential advocates for the project, an estimate of cost, a timeline, and potential funding sources.
The WAP will be used by the State to target where its limited environmental grant resources should be spent in the SuAsCo Watershed. The priority actions identified in the WAP will be taken into consideration by many state and federal agencies when awarding environmental grants and loans, such as SRF loans and 319 grants. The WAP will also help mobilize the watershed community to collaboratively tackle regional environmental issues. Issues that are addressed by the WAP include open space protection, water conservation, water quality, and recreational opportunities.
“The Watershed Action Plan is an important tool not only for its role in bringing the watershed community together to plan for the future, but for obtaining state dollars for action projects”, says Nancy Bryant, Executive Director of the SuAsCo Watershed Community Council. “We are pleased that municipal leaders, businesses, and environmental organizations all took part in this critical planning process.”
For more information, you can contact: Nancy Bryant, SuAsCo Watershed Community Council, firstname.lastname@example.org, 978-461-0735, www.suasco.org or Ambient Engineering at 978-369-8188, www.ambient-engineering.com