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NPDES Permits in New England

OMSAP  LogoInter-agency Advisory Committee (IAAC) Meeting

Monday, May 17, 1999, 2:30-4:00 PM
New England Aquarium

Members : Salvatore Testaverde, NMFS (chair); Mike Bothner, USGS; Leigh Bridges, MADMF; David Dow, NMFS alternate; Christian Krahforst, MCZM; Matt Liebman, EPA; Steve Lipman, MADEP alternate; and Anne Smrcina, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. All member agencies were represented at this meeting except the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Observers: Cathy Coniaris, OMSAP/PIAC/IAAC Assistant; Patty Daley, Cape Cod Commission; Mike Delaney, MWRA; Cate Doherty, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay; Glenn Haas, MADEP; Rich Masters, Normandeau; Mike Mickelson, MWRA; and Andrea Rex, MWRA.

Summary prepared by C. Coniaris. Post-meeting comments are included in [brackets].

IAAC members present voted to approve (1 abstain) the proposed revision to the OMSAP charter which describes the IAAC mission (see below). S. Testaverde would like to present an IAAC consensus document regarding the IAAC's OMSAP charter revisions to EPA and MADEP.

February 24, 1999 meeting summary was approved with no amendments.

M. Liebman distributed a copy of the revisions to the OMSAP charter proposed by the IAAC subcommittee (S. Testaverde, L. Bridges and M. Liebman). The subcommittee took into consideration comments from G. Haas and S. Lipman. [G. Haas and S. Lipman had suggested the following IAAC mission: "(1) At OMSAP's request, IAAC will provide guidance on, and interpretation to, regulatory, procedural issues/questions related to operation of the POTW and Outfall. (2) IAAC will review/discuss OMSAP proposals and if deemed appropriate indicate to OMSAP and EPA/DEP/MWRA how, and if, the proposal complies and interacts with regulatory and resource mandates of the agencies represented on the IAAC. (3) Should the occasion arise, IAAC may independently request to OMSAP specific issues for them to address." They also suggested the following addition to the OMSAP/PIAC/IAAC protocol: "(1) IAAC should meet within a month following the OMSAP meeting if, as a result of the OMSAP meeting, there is something they need to deal with. (2) IAAC membership should be limited to federal and state agencies that have regulatory authority related to the POTW and/or outfall."]

IAAC discussed the proposed revisions to the OMSAP charter. Most IAAC members agreed that in addition to advising OMSAP, IAAC should also advise EPA and MADEP. IAAC agreed that its membership should only include state and federal agencies, though there was no agreement as to whether the Cape Cod Commission should join IAAC or remain on PIAC.

The IAAC reached a consensus, but did not vote on, the following comments regarding the OMSAP charter:

  1. "Membership of the PIAC and IAAC shall rotate among organizations." Comment: clarify or delete this sentence since agencies involved with the Boston Harbor Project should maintain representation on the IAAC.
  2. "OMSAP membership eligibility may include agencies that are not responsible for making direct regulatory decisions." Comment: delete this sentence. OMSAP membership should only be comprised of independent scientists. However, the group decided to only propose changes to sections of the OMSAP charter pertaining to IAAC.
  3. "Members of OMSAP, PIAC, and IAAC who do not attend meetings on a regular basis may be replaced by the EPA Regional Administrator and the Massachusetts Commissioner, if the Chair of the OMSAP recommends such action." Comment: instead of describing method of replacement in the charter, it should be in the protocol, i.e. delete the second half of the sentence.

D. Dow suggested adding a description of how particular agencies represented on IAAC are chosen by EPA/MADEP to the charter. C. Doherty asked how changes to the OMSAP charter can occur if the document will be attached to the permit which will be issued on May 20. She asked that EPA/MADEP provide a time line of how to request changes to attachments to the permit.

In part C of the membership section of the OMSAP charter, IAAC members voted to approve (S. Lipman abstained) the following proposed change: Current charter language: "The committee will advise the OMSAP on environmental regulations." Proposed change: "The committee will advise the OMSAP, EPA and MADEP on scientific, technical and/or regulatory matters related to discharges from and operations of the MWRA system outfalls that may directly or indirectly affect Boston Harbor, Massachusetts Bay, and Cape Cod Bay. The IAAC may review or evaluate other environmental matters as necessary."

G. Haas disagreed with this proposed revision since OMSAP is the group that advises EPA/MADEP on scientific and technical issues. He also pointed out that IAAC includes representation from EPA and MADEP and thus does not have to formally advise those agencies.

C. Coniaris updated the group on the approach for the OMSAP public workshop. The workshop will be relatively technical in order to describe monitoring results as well as answer questions from the public. The meeting will be open to the public, and a summary paper will be drafted and widely distributed. IAAC agreed with this approach. D. Dow and M. Bothner like the idea of having a poster session during the meeting. There will be a workshop planning meeting on May 18, 1999. A. Smrcina suggested a setting up a web forum in which OMSAP or other local marine scientists are on-line at a specific time to answer questions. Then the questions and answers could be posted on the web. [UPDATE: The planning group recommends that OMSAP host a two-day technical workshop to describe the results of seven years of baseline water quality, benthic, and fish/shellfish monitoring as well as summarize the 10-year Boston Harbor Clean-up Project. This meeting will also address public concerns in preparation for a public workshop. It will be scheduled in late summer and will be open to the public. Since the outfall is scheduled to go on-line by late September, the group also suggests that OMSAP host a public workshop in September to brief citizens on monitoring and address concerns. This would be an evening event geared towards the public.]

IAAC reviewed the draft OMSAP agenda. S. Testaverde asked about the proposed MWRA threshold revisions and M. Mickelson replied that MWRA is preparing to brief OMSAP on potential revisions to the chlorophyll, dissolved oxygen decline rate and floatables thresholds. The June 10 presentation will be a briefing and OMSAP will not be asked to deliberate on any revisions. [UPDATE: The June 10 OMSAP meeting has been cancelled due to the postponement of the Cape Cod Commission's Food Web Indicators proposal.]

P. Daley stated that the Cape Cod Commission is proposing a "Food Web Indicators" approach instead of the MWRA food web model scope of work (FWMSOW). The Commission will present an overview of this approach at the June 10 OMSAP meeting. From the Commission's briefing dated May 17, 1999 to the PIAC and IAAC, "The Cape Cod Commission proposes to establish a set of indicators or thresholds to identify and track changes and trends in the Bays ecosystem with a focus on the food web of the northern right whale. [The] purpose [is] to establish a series of thresholds to identify changes and trends in the right whale food web that may not be detected by the current warning and caution threshold levels….Food Web Indicators should be established to track specific density and particle sizes of Calanus finmarchicus, the right whale's primary food source. Food Web Indicators should also be established for other species that may affect the availability of Calanus finmarchicus, such as Phaeocystis. Particular emphasis should be placed on monitoring in the spring and summer seasons. The current monitoring program establishes some caution and warning levels for phytoplankton and nuisance algae. It also looks at species mix relative to phytoplankton. However, there is no threshold for certain aspects of species diversity that impact the northern right whale…." The Commission disapproves of the FWMSOW flowchart (see MWRA handout) because if there is any uncertainty with questions raised, the flow chart "dead-ends" if no one conducts research to address the questions. The Barnstable Science Advisory Panel will meet to further develop this Food Web Indicators proposal, hopefully by the June 10 OMSAP meeting.

M. Liebman feels that the Commission is on track so far. He described background to the draft permit requirement for a FWMSOW (see handout). S. Testaverde pointed out that NMFS is looking into other research databases for information similar to what the Food Web Indicators proposal would require. M. Mickelson described MWRA's progress towards preparing a FWMSOW (see handout). Since the FWMSOW language appeared in the February 1998 draft permit, MWRA has been working in consultation with the Outfall Monitoring Task Force and the Outfall Monitoring Science Advisory Panel on this draft requirement. If the final NPDES permit includes the same language as the draft permit regarding the FWMSOW, then MWRA will submit its scope of work. M. Mickelson then described the conceptual food web model for Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays developed by Jack Kelly et al. and the subsequent review of that food web model by OMSAP member Bob Kenney. In his review, B. Kenney pointed out that the Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay conceptual model is only a small part of the life of a right whale and that there are many other factors which affect its life history.

For a continuation of this discussion, see the May 17, 1999 PIAC meeting summary. [UPDATE: The June 10 OMSAP meeting has been cancelled. The MWRA have posted their food web model scope of work at: http://www.mwra.state.ma.us/harbor/enquad/pdf/99-09_enquad_report.pdf. The NPDES permit (page 9) states that "EPA and the MADEP, in consultation with the OMSAP discussed below, shall provide the MWRA with comments on this scope of work. Within ninety (90) days after receipt of these comments, MWRA shall submit a revised scope of work for review by OMSAP, and for approval by EPA and MADEP. After receipt of the revised scope of work, EPA and MADEP will determine whether implementation of the food web model is warranted." OMSAP will comment on the FWMSOW at its next meeting, sometime in early fall.]

S. Testaverde handed out MWRA bottom water dissolved oxygen (DO) baseline data results and a response to emergencies flowchart from the Contingency Plan. He is concerned about what the contingency measures would be in case low dissolved oxygen becomes a problem in the bottom waters around the new outfall. He discussed two suggested pathways for addressing low dissolved oxygen and distributed a handout describing one suggested pathway in which there is a revised response to a low DO event (as opposed to changing the DO threshold value). He would like to discuss this further at a future IAAC meeting.

A. Smrcina then briefly described the Sustainable Seas Expedition that will run during the first two weeks of July. The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary will be holding an open house at the New England Aquarium on July 4-5, and will have new one-person submersibles diving in the sanctuary sometime around July 10-14.

The PCB discussion on the agenda was postponed until after the NPDES permit is issued.



  • May 1999 OMSAP/PIAC/IAAC membership lists
  • March 2, 1999 draft IAAC meeting summary
  • OMSAP charter
  • Proposed IAAC revisions to the OMSAP charter
  • June 10 draft OMSAP agenda
  • Cape Cod Commission's Food Web Indicators approach briefing
  • Background to EPA's request for a food web model scope of work briefing
  • MWRA's progress toward preparing a food web model scope of work briefing
  • MWRA Boston Harbor Project and monitoring overview packet
  • OMSAP Workshop briefing
  • Dissolved oxygen and contingency flowchart handout (from S. Testaverde)

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