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Environment

MAPC | Promoting Smart Growth & Regional Planning

MAPC provides technical assistance and policy guidance to municipalities in our region on a wide range of environmental issues.

Some of these issues range from low impact development and green infrastructure planning to stormwater management, coastal and ocean resource management, and solid waste and organics disposal.

MAPC is working with the Mass Division of Ecological Restoration who is developing a state-wide program to help cities and towns replace failing or undersized culverts with structures that incorporate the MA Stream Crossing Standards.

Past storm events have shown that culverts incorporating the Standards hold up better during floods, are more cost-effective for municipalities in the long term, and restore river health. Replacing failing and undersized culverts will improve flood resilience, climate change readiness, and aquatic organism passage in your community.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Tim Chorey at timothy.chorey@state.ma.us or 617-626-1541


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learn more about our work


Massachusetts Food System Plan

The Food System Plan seeks to address issues such as production, jobs, and opportunities in the community.

Regional Climate Change Strategy:

The Regional Climate Change Strategy is a working document that provides recommendations for local, regional, and state action to reduce vulnerability to the anticipated impacts of climate change.

Stormwater Management and Funding:

Stormwater management is a growing challenge for local governments and MAPC's role is to help municipalities better understand the needs and importance of a well-funded stormwater management plan.

MEPA Review:

The MEPA review informs project applicants and state agencies of potential adverse environmental impacts in the early stages of planning.

Massachusetts Food System Plan

In 2014, the Massachusetts Food Policy Council made an ambitious effort to create a statewide plan to strengthen the Commonwealth's food system. This marked the first time that stakeholders from farming, environmental, public health, and other key sectors of the food system came together, to address issues such as production, jobs, and opportunities in the community. Learn more at mafoodsystem.org.

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Regional Climate Change Strategy

Drastic climate changes are happening and not everyone is wary of the impacts it has on the Boston Metro region. Climate change is not only causing more frequent and intense precipitation in the form of rain and snow, sea level rise and coastal flooding, it is also creating a more hospitable environment for insects and pathogens that can increase disease and chronic illness.

MAPC's Regional Climate Adaptation Change Strategy, aims to prepare recommendations for local, regional, and state action to reduce vulnerability to the anticipated impacts of climate change by first reducing GHG emissions.

The MAPC Environmental Division works very closely with MAPC's Clean Energy Program that helps municipalities reduce GHGs. For further details regarding the project, please review the scope of work summary.

Status 

Revised as of June 2015, the Regional Climate Strategy is not only included in MAPC's Regional Plan: MetroFuture, but has also been regularly presented with accordance to each audience.

Importance

It is critical that each municipality consider climate change adaptation and mitigation given the magnitude of climate change impacts on the environment that can happen over the next 10-50 years. This can impact developed areas and infrastructure, the economy, and public health in the Boston Metro region.

The Strategy

MAPC reached out to cities and towns in the Boston Metro region to learn more about how climate change adaptation is currently being addressed. We also worked to engage populations that may be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and/or have a reduced ability to adapt, whether by virtue of economic status, social capacity and resources, health, age, or geography. By reaching out and partnering with a multitude of organizations and stakeholders, we came up with these defining points to shape The Strategy:

  • An analysis of the key vulnerabilities across five facets of life, the built and natural environment in Metro Boston (coastal zones to the local economy)
  • Objectives designed framework for accomplishing the primary climate change goal that was adopted in 2008 as part of the MetroFuture Regional Plan - Goal 11: The region to be prepared for, and resilient to, natural disasters and climate change.
  • Important recommendations for change to be more socially, economically, and physically resilient in the face of climate change. It provides a single resource for decision makers in various roles across the region.

 

Stormwater Management

What is Stormwater and why do we need to manage it? It is the natural result of rain storms and other wet weather events. The precipitation usually flows into the ground or to surface waters allowing for recharge and filtering. However, as more of the landscape is covered with infrastructure interrupting the water cycle, stormwater has become an issue, that if not directed to natural or man-made facilities designed to treat it, water quality can be adversely impacted by chemical and biological materials. For example, oils, pesticides and animal waste can be picked up by water flowing across developed sites and deposited into nearby water bodies.

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Management

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has advanced the Stormwater Permitting Program through its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) to mitigate these impacts. The program has set a series of regulatory requirements for stormwater known as the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) general permit, making it necessary for towns to advance their Stormwater Master Plan with other additional steps. This may involve:

  • Meeting new phosphorous Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Waste Load Allocations (WLA)
  • Programming more frequent public education events
  • Completing mapping of sewer systems

Massachusetts Environment Policy Act (MEPA)

Established as state law in the late 1970s, the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) is a uniform system of environmental impact review. The intent of the MEPA review is to:

  • Reduce the potential for harm to the environment from certain development and transportation projects
  • Inform project applicants and state agencies of potential adverse environmental impacts while a proposal is still in the planning stages.
  • Identify any aspects of a proposed project that may necessitate additional description or analysis prior to the issuance of a Certificate and Section 61 Findings by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
  • Require developing enforceable mitigation commitments, which will become permit conditions for the project.

As part of the public review process, MAPC submits comment letters for projects considered to be of significant regional impact. View the Reports.