ADVOCACY

Julia Blatt_MassRivers_Bob Zimmerman_CRW

Mass Rivers is proud to serve as the statewide advocacy organization for rivers and streams in the Commonwealth. Learn more about the advocacy process and our priorities below. 

Zoom to find your legislator using our interactive map!

Map created by Caley Earls, Mass Rivers GIS Intern, 2021

Advocacy Wins

  • Won successful passage of a bill to require public notification of sewage spills to waterbodies in Massachusetts in 2021. Learn more >>

  • Forced the EPA to implement stormwater management requirements across the state.

  • Helped draft a 2014 state law to increase water infrastructure funding.

  • Increased stream connectivity by increasing the number of stormwater utilities around the state.  Our six day-long workshops trained 400 municipal staff and consultants on culvert replacements and stormwater utilities.

  • Worked with state staff to significantly strengthen state’s drought response management plan, completed in 2019.

  • Defeated several proposed bills that would have harmed rivers.

  • Increased climate resiliency, aquatic ecosystem protection, and climate justice in several bills that have been enacted into law.

  • Won multi-million dollar increases in both annual state funding and capital budgets for agencies that protect rivers, in FY19, FY20, and FY21.

Mass Rivers Top Legislative Priorities (2021-2022)

The Drought Bill: HD.898/S.530 An Act relative to maintaining adequate water supplies through effective drought management (Sponsored by Representative Dykema and Senator Eldridge) Currently, municipalities implement their own water conservation measures during drought, leading to a confusing patchwork of policies that provide a limited impact on our watersheds. This bill would give the Massachusetts Drought Management Task Force statutory authority and provide the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs with the authority to require uniform nonessential outdoor watering restrictions across a drought region during severe droughts. Essential users, like agricultural users, would be exempted. 

Screen Shot 2021-11-09 at 4.05.37 PM.png

Mass Rivers testifying before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture on the drought bill in October 2021.

The Invasive Species Bill: H.999/S.563 An Act responding to the threat of invasive species (Sponsored by Representative D. Rogers and Senator Jehlen) From water chestnut to hydrilla, knotweed to gypsy moths, invasive species are choking Massachusetts ecosystems. Invasive infestations impair water quality, degrade wildlife habitat, reduce recreational opportunities, and cost municipalities lots of time and money they don't always have.

 

This bill would create an Invasive Species Council tasked with creating an Invasive Species Management plan for the state, as well as administering the Invasive Species Trust Fund. Municipalities and conservation organizations could seek guidance, expertise, and grant funding on invasive species eradication. This Council would guide policy and action on preventing and controlling terrestrial and aquatic invasive species across the state. 

Have an invasives story? We're collecting data from organizations and municipalities on their invasive species experiences - challenges, costs, and triumphs. You can help us move this bill forward and educate legislators on what it takes to steward a healthy ecosystem by sharing your story. Contact Policy Specialist Katharine Lange (katharinelange@massriversalliance.org)

More Bills We Support:

Ecological Mosquito Reform - (HD.2383)
Flood Risk Protection Program - (HD.3103
Flushable Wipes - (HD.1625)
Lakes Ponds & Streams Commission - (HD.2331)
Mesh Drainage - (SD.1764)

Office of Outdoor Recreation - (S.560)
Public Lands Protection Act - (SD.271
Water Banking - (HD.1672)

How are laws made in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, legislative sessions begin on January 1 and last two years. An average of 6,000-10,000 bills are filed every session. However, less than 10% are passed and become state law.  Learn how bills are created and passed in the state legislature >>

How does Massachusetts create its state budget?

Massachusetts fiscal years run from July 1–June 30.  Learn how the state budget is created and passed >>

Advocacy Toolkit

Maintaining consistent contact with your local, state and federal elected officials is key to ensuring that they keep your priorities at the top of their list. For additional information on ways you and/or your organization can improve your advocacy efforts, check out our toolkit >>

Legislative Breakfast

How to Talk to Your Legislator

Where else is Mass Rivers speaking up for rivers?

Mass Rivers participates in state-run task forces, and coalitions with partner organizations. Learn more >>

Action Alert Sign Up

Keep up with Mass River’s advocacy work and how you can help by subscribing below for our news and action alerts!

Thanks for signing up!

Mass Rivers Budget Priorities – FY23

Mass Rivers is proud to partner with a group of organizations to advocate for these line items in the state budget so that the agencies who steward our waterways and environment have sufficient funding each year. Our goal is to get the state to spend 1% of the state budget on environmental agencies in the yearly budget (FY22 was only at 0.62%, up from 0.55% in FY18).

Department of Environmental Protection – Administration (Line-Item 2200-0100)

The Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has a critical role in protecting public health and safety. MassDEP is tasked with ensuring clean air and water, managing toxics, reducing solid waste, preserving wetlands, developing energy efficiency projects and preparing the Commonwealth for climate change impacts. They recently added PFAS testing and sewage discharge notification to their workload, without gaining additional employees for those duties. 

Department of Fish and Game – Division of Ecological Restoration (Line-Item 2300-0101)

The Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) within the Department of Fish and Game restores and protects our rivers, wetlands, and watersheds to improve streamflow, protect drinking water, and reduce flooding. Every state dollar invested in DER projects is matched on average by five non-state dollars. Every $1 million spent on restoration in Massachusetts, generates, on average, a 75% return on investment and creates or maintains 12.5 jobs. In FY17, DER and its partners managed over $13 million in federal grants to remove obsolete dams, upgrade failing bridges and replace culverts.

Department of Conservation and Recreation – State Parks and Recreation (Line-Item 2810-0100)

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) stewards 450,000 acres of land that provide abundant recreational opportunities, enhance water quality, and contribute to a stable climate. Massachusetts' State Parks experienced a boom of attendance during the pandemic: the average increase in visitation was 99%, though some areas received as much as a 300% increase. DCR needs to be prepared for the impacts of climate change, like flooding and drought, as well as invasive species outbreaks and normal maintenance of facilities. They provide an invaluable environmental, educational, and recreational service to our communities. 

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs - Environmental Justice (2000-0102)

This line item was created for the first time this year to specifically carve out environmental justice (EJ) which had previously been funded from EEA Climate. This funding will allow more oversight of EJ spending, including stronger translation services for public comment periods, and additional mapping technology to overlay environmental and public health data to fully understand cumulative impacts on all Massachusetts communities.

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs - Climate Adaptation and Preparedness (2000-0101)

This line item was created in 2015, and funds interagency coordination and implementation of climate strategies. This funding covers resilience in the transportation, energy, public health, and buildings sector, as well as municipal assistance and the coordinator positions in the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program.