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Who Should You Call?

Who monitors water quality of your favorite river? Who makes development decisions in your neighborhood? It can be tricky to determine who is responsible for a certain issue.

Navigating the different levels of government can be tricky, and the appropriate contact depends on what kind of issue you have - is it legislative, regulatory, or budgetary?

Feb 2 Drought Meeting with Vendana (7).j

Is it a legislative issue?

The existing law is problematic, and changing the law would improve the situation.

If it is a state law, you should contact your state legislators.
(Who is my state legislator?)

If it is a federal law, you should contact your members of Congress. 
(Who is my member of Congress?)

For example, right now when sewage overflows into our public waterways, there is no requirement for the public to be notified, putting public health at risk. Mass Rivers is advocating for a bill (H.4921) to require public notification when such an overflow occurs. 

Here's a state list of relevant water laws >>

Refresh on the Massachusetts Legislative Process >>

Is it a regulatory issue?

There is too much or not enough action permitted under existing regulations. Changing the level of what is permitted under the regulation would improve the situation.

You should contact a state or federal agency. 











Water quality and quantity of freshwater systems are often managed by permits. When permits are being drafted or renewed, there will be periods for public commenting and engagement at which point you may voice your opinion on permit parameters and any environmental impacts it might have, or offer new suggestions on management strategies. You can submit comments as an individual, or as part of an organization.

For example:

Is it a budgetary issue?

The laws and regulations may be sufficient, but perhaps the work isn't being carried out as thoroughly as it should be due to agency budgetary constraints. You should contact your state legislators. 
Find them here >>

Every two years, the state legislature and the governor create the budget and decide how much money to give to each agency. Mass Rivers continues to advocate during the budget cycle for level and increased funding for environmental agencies, particularly the Department of Environmental Protection and the Division of Ecological Restoration - and you can help us! Budget advocacy is a great reason to reach out to your state legislator. Illustrate to them how providing a certain program or agency with more funding will impact your community.


Refresh on the Massachusetts Budget Process >>

Does it require legal action?

The laws and regulations may be sufficient, but perhaps the agency or permittee is slacking on their compliance with the rules. While a long and expensive process, litigation can be a useful tool in these cases to make actors comply with important environmental laws and regulations.

The Conservation Law Foundation operates around New England and provides excellent legal advice on environmental issues. Also, the Boston Bar Association can also help you find pro bono legal advice.

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