Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

NPDES Permits in New England

OMSAP  LogoPublic Interest Advisory Committee (PIAC) Meeting

Monday, March 2, 1999, 3:30 to 6:00 PM
EPA Boston

Members Present: Cate Doherty (interim chair), Save the Harbor/Save the Bay; Wayne Bergeron, Bays Legal Fund; Robert Buchsbaum, Massachusetts Audubon; Patty Daley, Cape Cod Commission; Marianne Farrington, New England Aquarium; Joe Favaloro, MWRA Advisory Board; Sal Genovese, SWIM; Joan LeBlanc, The Boston Harbor Association alternate; and Susan Redlich, Wastewater Advisory Committee.

Observers: Anthony Chatwin, Conservation Law Foundation; Cathy Coniaris, OMSAP Assistant; Mike Delaney, MWRA; Gillian Grossman, SH/SB; Matt Liebman, EPA; Steve Lipman, MADEP; Ron Manfredonia, EPA; Mike Mickelson, MWRA; Andrea Rex, MWRA; and Sal Testaverde, NMFS.

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


  1. PIAC will keep its membership open for the next two meetings, extend an invitation to the CLF and STOP, and recommend a change in OMSAP charter regarding numbers of members.
  2. PIAC commented on the draft OMSAP/PIAC/IAAC protocol [see below].
  3. PIAC agreed to become involved in the planning of the 1999 OMSAP public meeting.
  4. W. Bergeron agreed to contact the State Ethics Commission regarding group email discussions and the Open Meeting Law and report back to PIAC.
  5. PIAC recommends that OMSAP postpone voting on the draft food web model scope of work at the March 22 OMSAP meeting so PIAC can have the opportunity to provide OMSAP with informed views on the upcoming Cape Cod Commission proposal.
  6. PIAC understands that the proposed MWRA lab consolidation will not cause a reduction in staff or services but requested to be kept informed of developments by MWRA.
  7. The next PIAC meeting will be scheduled in May before the next OMSAP meeting and may be scheduled jointly with IAAC.

The summary of the December 15, 1998 PIAC meeting was approved with no amendments. S. Redlich and P. Daley gave a brief summary of the December 18, 1998 OMSAP meeting. According to their report, presentations at the OMSAP meeting included MWRA's draft food web model scope of work and a method of using nitrogen-15 stable isotopes to study the fate of nitrogen in effluent entering the marine environment. C. Doherty then gave a brief summary of the February 24, 1999 IAAC meeting. IAAC discussed its roles/responsibilities, Cape Cod Commission's request to leave PIAC and join IAAC, endocrine disruptors, and PCBs. [Meeting summaries are available.]

The OMSAP charter currently states that membership of PIAC may not exceed its current number if 11. The Conservation Law Foundation and Stop the Outfall Pipe have requested to join the PIAC. The group agreed to increase its membership so that all interested organizations can be involved but also agreed that the group eventually has to stop expanding because large groups can become unproductive. ACTION: PIAC will keep its membership open for the next two meetings, extend an invitation to the CLF and STOP, and recommend a change in OMSAP charter regarding numbers of members.

The PIAC reviewed and commented on the draft protocol:

  • Quorum for OMSAP members needs to be addressed (S. Redlich).
  • Flexibility is very important, especially in the "Requests to Present to OMSAP" section since public interest or scientific "emergencies" could arise and should be allowed on the agenda (J. LeBlanc).
  • PIAC should try to discuss issues before they are brought to OMSAP or EPA/MADEP. Add to protocol: PIAC may need to call a meeting about a new issue before OMSAP deliberates (C. Doherty).
  • PIAC should "filter" information brought to the OMSAP which they think is of particular importance. If PIAC does not agree that a concern is important, then individual groups still have the option of going directly to OMSAP/EPA/MADEP. Ideally, issues will first be discussed by PIAC such that OMSAP/EPA/MADEP have the benefit of knowing how PIAC stands on a particular issue that is raised (C. Doherty).
  • Observers will also have an opportunity to express opinions at PIAC meetings (S. Redlich).
  • Organizations represented on PIAC may appoint alternates (M. Farrington).
  • At least one PIAC member will attend the IAAC meetings and report back to PIAC (C. Doherty).
  • The attendance of members at PIAC meetings is important and should be addressed in the charter (M. Farrington).
  • If PIAC feels that they have not had the chance to review all available information or give input on an issue, they may request that an OMSAP vote be delayed (J. LeBlanc).
  • First paragraph of "PIAC procedures": add "EPA/MADEP" after "OMSAP" (C. Doherty).
  • Add the purposes of the PIAC and IAAC (S. Testaverde).
  • The OMSAP charter states that there will be an annual public meeting. The PIAC should be involved in the planning (S. Redlich). ACTION: The group agreed to be involved in the planning of the 1999 OMSAP public meeting.
    Additional comments may be sent to C. Coniaris.

There was discussion regarding the integration of the meeting schedules of the three groups. S. Testaverde asked if MWRA will give the same OMSAP presentations to PIAC/IAAC. Or perhaps if there are agenda items common to both groups, there could be a single PIAC/IAAC meeting scheduled. Some felt that it is not fair to ask the MWRA to give three independent presentations. Several members liked the idea of having meetings on the same day to save on travel.

C. Coniaris suggested that all three groups meet on the same day. OMSAP would meet from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM and then the two subcommittees would meet separately in the afternoon. PIAC/IAAC could attend the technical presentations in the morning, discuss them in the afternoon, and then plan for the next OMSAP meeting. P. Daley approved of the idea as long as the OMSAP does not vote. W. Bergeron feels that there are advantages to this in that everything is still fresh in your mind, and presentations will be heard first hand. C. Doherty sees this as a good idea, but also thinks that the PIAC should meet one more time before the OMSAP meets again to discuss issues that OMSAP may not be considering. Others agreed. R. Manfredonia added that this implies that OMSAP not take a position on the same day a new issue is presented since PIAC would not have had a chance to discuss the issue and provide input to OMSAP.

W. Bergeron believes that though expediency is important in terms of making decisions, there is an advantage in taking the time to discuss an issue thoroughly. J. LeBlanc agreed and added that another advantage is to be in the room to hear what the scientists are saying first hand. Someone pointed out that waiting until PIAC deliberates before OMSAP makes a decision is going to slow the process. R. Manfredonia pointed out that OMSAP should not be making decisions without input from PIAC. The challenge is to make this process efficient, convenient, timely, without duplication, and have everyone involved be informed. It is not clear how to do that yet. J. LeBlanc asked if OMSAP can make recommendations directly to MWRA. R. Manfredonia replied that OMSAP may directly advise MWRA if they feel it is necessary. PIAC agreed to try to schedule all three groups to meet on the same day, however, this decision was later revised (the group decided it should meet before the next OMSAP meeting) [see below].

W. Bergeron asked if group email conversations would violate the Open Meeting Law. He pointed out that though telephone conversations between two people are allowed, private conversations of a deliberating body are not allowed. S. Testaverde added that it depends on what kinds of conversations are occurring -- informational or decision-making. ACTION: W. Bergeron agreed to contact the State Ethics Commission about this and report back to PIAC.

P. Daley stated that Andy Solow (OMSAP Chair) has asked the Cape Cod Commission to develop specific recommendations for the OMSAP regarding food web modeling. The CCC believes that additional monitoring together with a different way of looking at the existing data would be very useful. The CCC is trying to take a different approach to better define what they mean by a food web model. J. LeBlanc pointed out that her concern at the last PIAC meeting was implementation and this can not be addressed until OMSAP comes to agreement as to what kind of food web model should be considered. P. Daley stated that the CCC is developing an alternative to the Battelle draft food web model scope of work. The CCC is considering examining the Kelly at al. (1998) model and trying to look at the existing monitoring program to see if there are areas which can be improved. S. Testaverde (IAAC chair) thinks the next PIAC meeting might be a good joint meeting for PIAC/IAAC since the food web model will be discussed in detail. C. Doherty agreed. ACTION: PIAC recommends that OMSAP postpone on voting on the draft food web model scope of work at the March 22 OMSAP meeting so PIAC can have the opportunity to provide them with their informed views on the upcoming Cape Cod Commission proposal. The next PIAC meeting will be scheduled in May before the next OMSAP meeting and may be scheduled jointly with IAAC. During this meeting, PIAC will be brought up to speed on the technical issues surrounding the food web model scope of work debate and discuss any possible recommendations to OMSAP.

M. Delaney stated that MWRA is planning to consolidate its Sewerage and Drinking Water laboratories into one department. This is to better allocate staff and resources, have a single and unified approach to quality assurance and information management, and make sure that the labs are independent from the operating departments. It has not yet been determined where the other two units in ENQUAD (Harbor Studies and NPDES) fit in.

J. LeBlanc had requested this to be put on the agenda last minute because it is time sensitive. She is concerned about how this will affect the MWRA's ability to: (1) provide the necessary lab and reporting work associated with the outfall; (2) respond to any potential problems (i.e. what's the chain of command if contingency measures need to considered); and (3) provide adequate information (both reports and verbal communication) to PIAC and the public in response to any problems that occur. She feels that systems need to be in place and communications efficient before the outfall goes on-line.

The PIAC then had an opportunity to ask questions and have a discussion. J. Favaloro pointed out that this is not a money-saving effort or a physical move, but rather an exercise on paper to reduce redundancy and increase efficiency. It is not even certain if this consolidation will take place. M. Delaney added that there will not be a reduction in services. The goal for this consolidation is July 1. ACTION: PIAC understands that the proposed MWRA lab consolidation will not cause a reduction in staff or services but requested to be kept informed of developments by MWRA. PIAC agreed that the services provided by the MWRA NPDES Permit and Harbor Studies units are important to the group.

M. Mickelson briefly described the draft plume tracking study design which is required by the draft NPDES permit. Plume tracking is a field test of the dilution of the new MWRA outfall. Dilution is used in toxicity calculations. Using dilution and known toxic amounts of substances, one can work back to calculate how much of the contaminants can be allowed in the wastestream.

Dilution was well studied using a physical model in the EPA test tank. Roberts et al. (1993) used a scale model diffuser which injected dye. The concentration of dye was measured and dilution could then be calculated since it is the reciprocal of concentration. Minimum dilution can be looked at as the reciprocal of the maximum concentration allowable. This depends on flow, stratification, and currents. If you double the flow, the dilution worsens. If you unstratify the water column, the dilution is improved. If you have currents that are perpendicular to the risers, dilution is improved. Parallel currents have no effect compared to zero current. R. Buchsbaum asked over what area dilution is being considered. M. Mickelson replied that there are two processes to consider when studying dilution -- rise and horizontal spread. Dilution is measured 60 meters outside of the area after initial rise. S. Testaverde asked what would happen if all factors were varied at the same time. M. Mickelson replied that the physical model varied each parameter individually. Since the plume tracking study will be undertaken in the field, it will examine the variability of all factors at once.

The field study itself will include the use of towyos and acoustic tracking to map the plume. Dye, salinity, and other effluent tracers will be measured. The first survey is scheduled for November 1999 [correction: December] and the second in June 2000 to characterize high and low dilution scenarios. S. Testaverde asked about dilution if the secondary batteries are exceeded and secondary/primary blending of effluent occurs. M. Delaney pointed out that when there is very high flow, much of the discharge is storm water which dilutes the effluent. The group did not have any comments on the draft study design at this time.

This issue was first presented to IAAC as an informational topic at their February 24 meeting. M. Liebman briefly described EDs and how EPA is studying them. In the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 and amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA was mandated to form an advisory committee, the Endocrine Disruptor Screening and Testing Advisory Committee (EDSTAC). Their charge is to set up a process to screen and test the ~87,000 chemicals which may be endocrine disruptors [EPA fact sheet is available]. EDs are "exogenous chemical substances or mixtures that alter the structure or function of the endocrine [hormone] system and cause adverse effects in organisms, progeny, populations or subpopulations". PCBs, many pesticides, tributyl tin (an antifoulant for boats) are examples of EDs. Several PIAC members felt that research on EDs should continue to at least be discussed by PIAC since there are important fisheries in this region which have been severely depleted and EDs are known to be harmful to larval fish at very small doses. However, the ED screening program is in its early stages and PIAC acknowledged that ED monitoring in wastewater is not an issue OMSAP can review at this time.

PIAC agreed that the food web model scope of work is an issue the group will continue to review. Other imminent issues are the draft plume tracking study design and MWRA's proposed Contingency Plan revisions. Members were asked to forward any other concerns they would like to see addressed to C. Doherty.


Jump to main content.